4 Ways SXM Media is Fighting Fake Streams

Oct 19, 2021

Brendan Kelly, Director, Ad Quality Measurement and SXM Media TAG Compliance Officer

In case you’re not familiar with the term, “spin fraud,” also known as “fake streams,” is when bots stream music for monetary gain or improved rankings. And it’s becoming an infamous trend in the digital music industry right now. But with our strong cross-functional team, we stay one step ahead of fraudsters to fight this issue across all of our brands—creating one of the safest places to buy audio. 

Here are four key ways we’re tackling this issue: 

1. We are constantly vigilant.

We take fraud very seriously, and we bring in the best in the business to help. We work with multiple third-party fraud measurement partners and have developed internal flags for unusual activity. By closely monitoring this activity, we can quickly identify new threats and have our internal teams mitigate them—and our internal teams are looped in, from the product and analytics side to the marketing and ad quality measurement teams. 

2. We block non-human “users” from our platform.

In partnership with our measurement vendors, we’ve become skilled at knowing which traffic is likely to be non-human, and we deployed a mechanism to identify these phony users at login or reauthentication. This helps us stop bots in their tracks from accessing our platform in real-time, helping to keep their fraudulent activity off our platform.

3. We quickly identify and remove bad content.

Not all content is good content, and we keep our eyes on fraudsters who create audio tracks of questionable quality to gain royalty payments. Our content team works with a third-party to provide feedback on meta-data at the track level, and identify potentially bad content. Removing the content stops the revenue stream, meaning we don’t pay out royalties for those tracks identified as fraudulent.

4. We share what we learn

  • We work with our content providers to help them improve their own efforts in fighting fraud. Sharing best practices and feedback on what attacks look like helps them quickly identify and remove bad content, too. Spin fraud is a sophisticated series of attacks where the methods are constantly evolving, and we keep up with it.

  • In fact, we share best practices across all of our SXM Media brands and partnerships. This ensures that our brand is looped into any threats and can implement similar practices to block fake users and content, keeping ad buys on SXM Media safer. 

  • We’re committed to TAG certification and continue to uphold this. And by sharing our knowledge with industry working groups, we strive to create a safer, more reliable, and transparent industry for all artists, listeners, and advertisers.

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