CPA Campaigns and Ad Fraud

cpa ad fraud
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Various campaign models have emerged over the years. With each new model comes a higher level of effectiveness. Marketers are therefore utilizing these new marketing strategies as a way to optimize their marketing efforts and ensure that they benefit from their ad spend. CPA is one of the recent campaign models which marketers have really taken to due to the reduced risks that it affords them. Even so, they still need to be vigilant as mobile ad fraud is still prevalent. Here is an overview of the CPA campaign model and how it has fallen victim to ad fraud.

Mobile Advertisement Models

Mobile advertisement networks connect advertisers to mobile app creators. The mobile app owners are paid to provide some space for ads in their apps which is then, in turn, are sold to the advertising company. Different mobile advertising networks use different advertising structures and payment models. The following are the various types of advertisement models:

Cost-Per-Mile (CPM) – The advertiser is charged for every a thousand views that their ad gets. Publishers get to be paid simply for the showing of ads. However, if they have large traffic of people who are highly interested in the products or services being advertised, they stand a chance to earn much more money from other models.

Cost-Per-Click (CPC) – The advertiser is charged for every click which their ad receives. This model is more advantageous to advertisers as they only pay when there is actual interest in their products or services demonstrated through a click. It will also work for publishers, depending on their traffic. However, they end up giving a lot of ad views for free.

Cost-Per-Install (CPI) – This model charges the advertiser for when their ad is clicked and leads to an actual install. This way, they get to pay for the actual acquisition of customers.

Cost-Per-Action (CPA) – This is an advancement to the CPI model. Here, the advertiser pays for specified actions that take place within the app by users. This provides more opportunity for both the publishers and advertisers.

The CPA Advertising Model

Here is a more in-depth look at the CPA advertising model:

Affiliate marketing is the process by which an affiliate can earn a commission after marketing products or services from another person or company. Cost-Per-Action advertising is a form of affiliate marketing. Here, the affiliate will earn their commission only when their referred visitors complete a particular action. 

Hence, the marketer will only pay when the specified action occurs due to the affiliate’s ad. The advertiser, in this case, is given the liberty to specify the desired action for the CPA campaign. This can be anything from a sign-up to a purchase. Here are examples of other actions that can be specified under the CPA advertising model:

  • Taking Surveys- To learn more about their target market, companies are constantly conducting surveys. Survey data is very useful in helping them to optimize their products and services for their customers. Hence, they may pay to get completed survey responses.
  • Provision of an email address- The use of email as a digital form of communication has increased. As such, email marketing has become a lucrative way for companies to promote their products and services. To increase their email marketing reach, they can use CPA advertising to collect valid email addresses.
  • Free Sign Ups- Signing up new users for free trials is a common method that companies use to broaden their user base. Running a CPA advertising campaign is an excellent way for them to optimize this process.
  • Making a Purchase- Companies can also utilize CPA advertising to drive more sales.
  • Sharing Content on Social Media- There is no better way to spread the word about a company’s offerings than social media. Advertisers can therefore pay every time certain content is shared by users on social channels.

The CPA advertising model is highly beneficial for marketers as risk is reduced on their side. This is because they end up paying for specific conversions rather than just paying for views. Hence, if the desired results are not met, this budget can be reallocated to another area. 

How to Calculate CPA

The amount of money that an affiliate can earn from CPA campaigns and the amount that an advertiser will pay will vary depending on the industry involved. As a marketer, you can determine your CPA by dividing the total cost of the marketing campaign by the number of successful actions taken.

Ad Fraud and CPA based Campaigns

Before the emergence of the CPA-based campaigns, there existed the CPI model. Here, publishers got to be paid for each install they managed to generate. However, with time, advertisers came to realize that the CPI model was highly susceptible to mobile ad fraud. It came to be that fraudsters would generate fake users and then perform fake installments. 

With time, a better mobile advertising model was birthed. That is, the CPA model. By tracking actions performed by users, advertisers could now be able to differentiate quality users from fake ones. They, therefore, developed a false sense of security with this new model.

With a chance to gain more money, fraudsters have looked for ways of hijacking CPA campaigns. They have now come to take advantage of the comfort of unsuspecting advertisers. With access to even more sophisticated bots, they have managed to dive deeper into the app and gone as far as faking in-app events and even purchases. This mobile ad fraud has more so affected apps that rely a lot on measurable in-app events.

How to Prevent Ad Fraud?

There is a lot to be lost when it comes to mobile ad fraud in CPA-based campaigns. Marketers, therefore, cannot afford to be complaisant. It’s high time that they start looking for fraud far beyond the installation point. Mobile ad fraud can be uncovered by the use of sophisticated ad fraud detection tools. Advertisers need to start looking into such methods, among others, so as to prevent ad fraud. 


Fraudsters are always looking for new opportunities to scam marketers. They are constantly improving their techniques so as to penetrate even the most thought full-proof models such as the CPA. Hence, marketers cannot be reluctant in their efforts to detect and prevent ad fraud.

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