Mobile ad fraud is when an individual or group attempt to defraud advertisers, publishers or supply partners by exploiting mobile advertising technology. The objective of fraudsters is to steal from advertising budgets.
How big of a problem is mobile ad fraud?
Ad fraud is constantly evolving over time, so much so that there are number of ways that fraud can affect mobile media. This can take a number of different forms, from faked impressions, click spam or faked installs. As the industry develops to fight them, so too do methods of fraud change and improve.
Mobile ad fraud can be siloed into two types; click and install fraud.
Click fraud comes in many forms such as bots, banner stacking and device uploading. Bots constantly generate fake clicks in the background so anyone who visits the site is pulled into the attribution window. Whilst banner stacking is where a user sees and clicks on one ad but a number of ads may receive the impression or click.
In other cases, some publishers may falsify installs that are of no value. This can be done through attribution fraud, secret incent or site retargeting. Attribution fraud is where suppliers takes credit for an install, of which they were not the last click. Secret incent is where publisher provides a reward for the install, leading to low value users.
Click and install fraud remove the value of media spend and some cases can be very costly. Imagine spending hundreds of thousands on campaigns only to see your investment wasted on fraudulent downloads and clicks.
So, whose problem is it?
Currently there are no signs of stopping fraud in its entirety. But we can collectively, as an industry, work together to minimise fraud in mobile.
The overarching key to minimising and understanding fraud is transparency through deep-diving into user level data, source hierarchy, information architecture and ad network selection.
It is important that we identify channel hierarchies to enable de-duplication, since a supplier may take credit or attribute a duplicate install for a user who was actually converted by a second source. When running activity with ad networks, they must be transparent, well trusted and reputable
How can we stop mobile ad fraud?
There are a number of fraud prevention tools available in the market and businesses should also apply benchmarks with regards to spends and install caps. It’s about staying a step ahead.
Fraud is definitely a key talking point in the industry and will remain as such as it evolves over time.
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