December 3rd, 2019
Yes. Ad fraud follows dollars, and looking at the accelerated growth that the mobile industry has seen over the past few years, it’s easy to see why fraudulent companies are drawn to this industry. As ad spend increases, so does ad fraud. Brands are forecasted to spend $77 billion on mobile in-app advertising this year, and about $26.5 billion will be lost to mobile in-app fraud.
Particularly at this time of the year, when many marketers are ramping up their efforts to drive holiday sales, the cost of ad fraud is not just the cost of wasted media spend, but also the cost of missed opportunities.
For this reason, Jampp and Branch teamed up to share some practical tips for identifying different types of fraud and best practices advertisers should keep in mind.
The best way to understand the different types of ad fraud is to consider that they are directly linked to the pricing model in place.
The more competitive the markets get, the more pressure on app advertisers to deliver growth. User acquisition managers are constantly striving to get the largest possible amount of new users at the lowest possible cost. While many say their KPIs are based on lifetime user value and in-app events, there is still a large part of the industry (and investors who support it) that avidly watches “market-share” and download counts as success metrics, which is why the CPI model persists.
Now let’s take a look at five different types of ad fraud and the red flags advertisers should look out for 🚩
Click spamming, also referred to as click flooding, consists of fake click requests. Fraud companies extract real campaign URL tokens for a specific device type or location. They then execute programs to generate a high volume of click requests, randomizing device-IDs and user agents at each iteration. The Goal: to randomly get attributed installs/events.
Fraud companies, through previously gained access to the user’s mobile device, detect when a new app is being installed and at that precise moment fire a click to gain the attribution.
This type of fraud is generally driven by a few sites which have generated the click in order to claim high performance.
Pixel Stuffing, or ad stacking, refers to the process of serving one or multiple ads in a single 1X1 pixel frame. This makes the ads humanly unviewable, and as a consequence advertisers pay for impressions that won’t convert.
The above-mentioned examples have been around for a while, and the flags and subsequent analysis are pretty clear cut. However, fraud is not a static thing, it is constantly evolving. Lately, more elaborate schemes have surfaced, like Malicious Apps or Malware, as well as certain types of Spoofing.
This is a type of spoofing where the impression and the user are real but the bundle ID, which is the identifier of the app, is not.
The bundle ID allows the fraudulent app to disguise itself as a premium app. In this way, the fraudulent app will charge premium fares for low-quality placements. Spoofing could also be found on other variables such as location or Device ID.
Malware is a piece of software that disrupts a device to damage it or to collect data without users’ consent, committing fraud or tracking user behavior. It is usually triggered by clicking on suspicious links or downloads, and can take the form of viruses, bots, spyware, or adware among others.
For these types of fraud, there is little that advertisers can do on their end, but if the pricing model places the incentive on real events and real revenue, optimization and predictive media buying models will automatically stop bidding for the fraudulent inventory. Working with partners like Jampp that employ advanced global blacklists, that are constantly revised and updated, is another barrier of defense against these types of fraud.
There are multiple variables that make the mobile industry an ideal scenario for fraudsters, but it’s not a lost battle. Marketers looking to safeguard their ad spend against ad fraud can implement the following measures:
Earlier this year, Branch launched the Branch Certified Partner Program. To become Certified by Branch, all partners must meet higher technical requirements, including passing secondary publisher data, as well as sharing campaign, ad name, and device ID.
Jampp eagerly joined the initiative to collaborate with Branch on its ongoing efforts to fight mobile ad fraud by agreeing to common definitions for what constitutes fraud and sending secondary publisher and device ID for in-app traffic.
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