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Ad Injection in Connected TV - There might be some forced ads streaming before you

Posted by Huzefa Hakim | September 26, 2023

Ad Injection in Connected TV - There might be some forced ads streaming before you

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital advertising, the realm of Connected TV (CTV) has taken centre stage. As digital advertisers and publishers, you're undoubtedly familiar with the potential of CTV to reach audiences in the comfort of their homes. However, lurking in the shadows of this promising platform is a threat known as "Ad Injection." According to some studies, injected ads can be observed during 15-25% of online shopping sessions. While e-commerce faces this threat frequently, in the world of connected TV advertising, ad injection can cause a menace to advertisers.

In this blog, we'll delve into the intricate world of Ad Injection in Connected TV, shedding light on what it is, how it occurs, its ramifications for advertisers and publishers, and most importantly, how you can safeguard your campaigns and revenues from this dangerous technique 

What is ad injection? 

Ad Injection refers to the unauthorized insertion of ads into a user's streaming experience on Connected TV devices. It's a technique employed by unscrupulous actors to serve ads that were not part of the original content or intended advertising. These injected ads are often intrusive, irrelevant, and, most importantly, unauthorized. Ad Injection can manifest in various forms:

  1. Overlay Ads: These are ads that appear on top of the legitimate content, obscuring the viewer's experience. They can disrupt the intended flow of the content and lead to a frustrating user experience.
  2. Pre-roll and Mid-roll Injections: Ad injectors can insert ads before or during the actual content, interrupting the viewer's engagement with the original material.
  3. Banner Ads: Sometimes, ads are injected as banners or pop-ups that hover over the screen or appear at the bottom, distracting the viewer from the main content.
  4. Forced Redirects: In some instances, users are redirected to external websites or app stores, without their consent, by malicious ad injections.

ad injection

How does it take place in connected TV advertising?

Ad Injection in Connected TV is made possible through the manipulation of various vulnerabilities in the ecosystem. Here's a detailed breakdown of the process:

  1. Compromised Apps and Devices: Ad injectors often exploit security vulnerabilities in CTV apps or the devices themselves. They may take advantage of outdated software, weak security protocols, or even tamper with the apps to insert unauthorized ads.
  2. Malicious Browser Extensions: Some users unknowingly install browser extensions on their CTV devices that are designed to inject ads. These extensions can come from unverified sources and can compromise the entire viewing experience.
  3. Unsecured Wi-Fi Networks: Ad injectors may target users on unsecured Wi-Fi networks, intercepting data traffic between the CTV device and the content server. This interception allows them to insert ads into the stream without detection.
  4. DNS Manipulation: Ad injectors can manipulate Domain Name System (DNS) settings to reroute CTV traffic through their own servers. This enables them to inject ads into the stream as it passes through their network.

Impact on advertisers and publishers

  1. Wasted ad spends- Advertisers pay for ad placements with the expectation of reaching their target audience. Ad Injection diverts ad dollars to unauthorized placements, resulting in wasted spend and reduced ROI.
  2. Reputation damage- Injected ads are often of poor quality and can lead to a negative perception of the brand among viewers who associate these intrusive ads with the advertiser.
  3. Decreased engagement- Forced ads disrupt the viewer experience, leading to a decline in engagement and conversions. This undermines the effectiveness of CTV advertising campaigns.
  4. Loss of Revenue- Publishers rely on legitimate ad placements to generate revenue. Ad Injection diverts ad revenue away from publishers, reducing their income and profitability.
  5. User Experience Degradation- Ad Injection harms the user experience on CTV platforms. This can lead to viewer dissatisfaction and decreased user retention, impacting a publisher's long-term success.

How to avoid ad injection in your connected TV ad campaigns?

  1. Update and Secure apps- The less the technological upgradation of a CTV app, the higher is the vulnerability to ad fraud. Thus, to counter the same, ensure that CTV apps are regularly updated and secured against vulnerabilities. Collaborate with app developers to address any security concerns promptly.
  2. Monitor traffic- Regularly monitor traffic patterns to detect anomalies or unauthorized ad placements. Implement real-time monitoring solutions to identify and block injected ads as they occur. Integrating with platforms like ClearTrust that provide these services under a single window using machine learning can be helpful
  3. Implement DNSSEC- DNSSEC stands for DNS Security Extensions. This protects your campaign against DNS manipulation making it more challenging for ad injectors to re-route traffic.
  4. User Education- Educate users on the risks of installing unverified browser extensions or using unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Encourage them to download apps and content from official sources so as to protect them from falling into the hands of injected and fake ads which can install malware on their devices and compromise sensitive information.