Video Marketing

Fraud in Video Ad Viewing - What You Should Know

Posted January 11, 2021
Written by Indiana Lee

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An estimated $29.24 billion is spent on online video advertising in the US each year. With so much money on the table, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that some bad actors are committing fraud in their video advertising metrics to take away a bigger piece of the pie.

For advertisers, this means money lost. Video marketing can be a great way to get users to engage with your content, but every advertiser should be aware of the risks. There are a wide variety of ways in which a site can fraudulently host an advertisement to maximize their own revenues while diminishing the reach of the ad.

Fraud in video advertising has consequences for every business owner. However, with a comprehensive understanding of the digital advertising world, you can better understand how to combat fraudulent activity where it occurs.

woman journalist looking through magnifying glass with surprised expression at laptop - Fraud in Video Viewing What You Should Know - Clipchamp Blog

Here’s what you should know. 

The World of Digital Advertising

All kinds of digital advertising are propagated across the web. However, video content stands out as an ever-increasing source of content consumption. With an increase of 52% in the last two years alone, video viewership represents the future of digital marketing.

With consumption growth, more advertisers are pouring money into engaging video content. The result is an industry facing explosive growth—and a host of ill-intentioned users looking to make a quick buck off scamming the system. This comes down to higher-stakes competition with less powerful results as the market is flooded with video advertisements.

Take the Amazing Selling Machine course as an example of the flooded market. The training program now stands as one of the top-selling courses for fulfillment-by-Amazon e-commerce approaches. The high-cost course teaches users how to compete in a crowded marketplace in the hopes that their businesses can pierce through the plethora of advertised content users see in order to return sales conversions.

Video marketing is a key aspect of this approach, one that does have the potential to make content stand out. As Hubspot reported, users are 62% likely to thoroughly consume video content rather than skim it. However, as more entrepreneurs and businesses catch on to this fact and learn how to use video marketing, the more video content is out there to compete with.

This creates a digital landscape in which it’s lucrative to engage in schemes like inflating video popularity or stacking video ads.

Fraudulent Video Viewing Schemes

Placing video ads gets expensive. On YouTube alone, businesses tend to pay $10 or more per day on ad campaigns that pay out when users engage with those ads. Paying to place such ads adds up quickly, and the money is filtered through the hosting platform.

As a result, companies like Facebook have been known to inflate video viewership numbers to entice advertisers. Advertisers think they are gaining access to a wider audience. Meanwhile, hosting platforms collect money for marginal results.

This is just one of the many fraudulent schemes that happen in the video marketing industry. Others include:

  • Video stacking by playing one ad on top of another, so users only see one

  • Hiding ads within single pixels

  • Using malware to view video advertisements

  • Purchasing bot traffic

These schemes and many more happen all the time to video marketers that don’t have the expertise and data on the platforms they are using to host their content. Marketers can have great success leveraging videos on Facebook and plenty of other sites, but without a measured and researched approach, you risk wasting funds on viewership fraud.

The Darker Implications of Video Fraud

Maintaining an awareness of video fraud that often occurs in marketing is essential. Avoiding schemes like viewership inflation or hidden ads can be an effective way to ensure that your marketing dollars aren’t wasted. However, there are darker implications of video fraud as well.

With video marketing tied through fraudulent activity to malware use or unethical practices like stacking or hiding paid advertisements, your business runs the risk of losing its reputation and even locking out certain user bases.

Fraudulent video ad activity can contribute to all kinds of existing web accessibility issues. Stacked or autoplaying videos, for example, can take up bandwidth for rural users, effectively locking them out. Meanwhile, hidden ads can cause multiple problems for screen readers or captioning services designed to help users with sensory impairments navigate the web.

Bottom Line

Video advertisement fraud is not a victimless crime. Atop the damages from what is essentially stolen ad money, fraudsters make the internet a less manageable place for millions of users. Luckily, however, as users of the internet, we all have a role to play in supporting authentic experiences.

Learning about and combatting video fraud is the first step in building a safer, cleaner, and more usable web experience for everyone. In turn, video marketers get to reap the benefits of having their carefully crafted content enjoyed by their intended audience.

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