Mobile ad fraud: how to counter it?

December 13, 2017 at 5:02 pm

Today, mobile ad fraud represents one of the most pervasive issues in the mobile marketing space. According to Business Insider, the amount of global advertising revenue wasted on fraudulent traffic will reach $16.4 billion by the end of  2017, doubling the previous forecast ($7.2 billion). This data underlines two different things: first, mobile ad fraud is spreading and it’s expected to do so even more especially since it is evolving and becoming more sophisticated. To counter this, the industry needs an alignment between marketers and partners. Until now, ad fraud has been conceived as the advertisers’ problem when it really affects the overall industry. It damages the quality of the traffic, user experience, revenues and above all – trust amongst networks, publishers and clients. But what mobile fraud is and why it occurs?

Mobile ad fraud is defined as the practice of deceiving advertisers by serving ads that don’t involve genuine users, consisting of low quality (or fake) clicks or installs. In other words, it happens when an individual scams advertisers, publishers or supply partners by exploiting mobile advertising technology to steal advertising budgets. It represents an opportunity to make money easily and quickly, which is determined by two main circumstances. The first one is the misalignment between ad market demand and offer. While mobile content production is quite slow, audience and advertising demand grow rapidly, creating cuts that fraudsters fill. Furthermore, mobile ad fraud is difficult to identify, since it spreads quickly and fraudulent publishers seem to be able to continuously find new ways to fool the system.

As of now, two main types of ad fraud can be identified: attribution fraud and instal fraud. Attribution fraud involves actions that exploit the weaknesses of tracking models to claim installs that should instead be attributed to another publisher (i.e automatic redirection or click spamming). Install fraud, on the other hand, is defined as scamming actions that involve creating fake users and fake installs to defraud advertisers to make them pay for installs that actually never happened (i.e bots or fake in-app purchases).

Identifying mobile fraud can be quite challenging, since there are always new ways to exploit the system. But detecting and preventing known practices is possible: joint efforts and a shared perspective can be a relevant starting point for defeating it. Fighting fraud and the resulting misrepresentations of the market’s dynamics require alignment and full cooperation of all those involved. Doing this will ensure focus on all common efforts to uncover elements triggering fraud, along with finding effective solutions to combat it. Some metrics can also quite useful to detect fraudulent scenarios as IPs, analysis of devices, click-to-install-time.

Given the material above, mobile ad fraud represents one of the most challenging issues in the mobile marketing environment. New types of Artificial Intelligence and the lack of a unified fraud detection system allow fraud to run rampant. A core challenge remains in how to identify and counter fraud promptly and effectively. Solutions are out there, but they require the full cooperation between marketers and partners. Absolute transparency and the sharing of data is considered one of the many preventive measures. Being able to identify sources of traffic that have breached or violated terms and sharing them on a public basis can also be helpful too.  If chargebacks are relevant, detailed proof from the advertiser to be shared in real time as part of the essential communication process is also pertinent. Looking at one element alone isn’t enough – but gauging the overall picture and considering all of the above is a good start.

Get our ebook here to deeply understand the matter and how to effectively counter fraudsters.