Mobile Ad Fraud || 2020 Predictions

Mobile Ad Fraud || 2020 Predictions
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Let’s not waste any time. 2020 is approaching fast, and we’ve learned, predicted, experimented and developed a lot in 2019. You heard it here first, our 2020 ad fraud predictions!

In this article/


Ad Fraud Will Become Holistic in 2020

2020 will show an overall shift from highly specialized ad fraud operations, to those same operations now pooling their skills, and including newly acquired skills and technologies to attack the entire marketing and advertising funnel. From click to install. From web to mobile. From walled garden to ad network. The reason? Ad fraud is evolving, and ad fraudsters are evolving. It is only the next logical step for these highly skilled and technical individuals, teams and crime organizations to add more weapons to their arsenal. One of the easiest options is to increase its range of ad fraud offerings.

“Fraudsters will combine their highly specialized skills in 2020, attacking the whole marketing funnel and further evading detection,” said Soner Sensoy, our CPO.


SDK Spoofing is Rising

We’ve said it once, we’ve said it twice, and we’ll say it again. SDK spoofing is on the rise! What does this mean for you, and why should you care? Here are the broad strokes:

  • SDK spoofing is sophisticated. Its sophistication is one of the reasons why SDK spoofing is one of the most difficult forms of ad fraud to detect. Furthermore, the nature of SDK spoofing (being written as[KF2]  code, mimicking a real action such as an install and click), is that any code can be written to mimic any action. That means, by 2020, we could be seeing very complicated code written, that will further fool already struggling ad fraud prevention tools.
  • SDK spoofing is rising. According to our latest report, SDK spoofing is the fastest-growing ad fraud type. It grew from 17% to 20% from Q1, 2019 to Q2, 2019. We expect this fast growth to accelerate in 2020.
  • SDK spoofing can fake highly complicated actions. One of the most troublesome aspects of SDK spoofing is their ability to convincingly simulate any activity the fraudster likes. Registrations, in-app actions, purchases. You name it. That is not only a problem for detection but also a problem for obtaining clean user and customer data.
Mobile Ad Fraud || 2020 Predictions
According to our latest ad fraud report, SDK spoofing continues to rise, whilst device farms continue to decline.


2020 and Beyond Financial Forecasts

We recently analyzed millions of downloads, clicks, and app sessions which wove the fabric of our most comprehensive ad fraud report to date. Within this report, we analyzed the state of ad fraud and contrasted this against previous findings, industry knowledge and insight to formulate our 2020 and 2022 predictions. Here are our top mobile ad fraud predictions for 2020 and 2022. Who says good things come in twos?

  • In Q2, 2019, mobile ad fraud constituted more than 41% of global ad spend. This is forecasted to increase to 44% in 2020.
  • By 2022, we forecast that mobile ad fraud will reach $14 billion on shopping apps on both iOS and Android.
  • By 2022, we forecast that mobile ad fraud will reach $13 billion in the Finance category.
  • By 2022 Interceptd forecasts mobile ad fraud will reach $8 billion in the Lifestyle category.


‘Safe’ Environments will be Targeted

According to our market research and on-the-ground insight, many user acquisition and digital managers feel more confident in the comfort of walled gardens, programmatic resources, and influencers. The perception of these platforms is that they are “safer.”

Walled gardens have the problem of lack of accessibility to raw data. This makes it difficult for this data to be analyzed and audited for ad fraud by independent auditors. Fraudsters are aware of this.

Meanwhile, programmatic and influencer marketing have problems on the other side of the coin. Data is available; however, these areas are not fraud-free.

Thus, fraudsters can operate in the perfect breeding ground, masked by the market’s lack of trepidation towards programmatic, influencer marketing and walled gardens.

More and more managers will make their predicted shift to walled gardens, programmatic and influencer marketing. More fraudsters will inevitably target these “safe” environments armed with their pre-acquired skills, knowledge and technology. Thus, we predict that walled gardens, programmatic and influencer marketing will be the Achilles heel of digital advertising in 2020.


The Bright Side

As ad fraud evolves with even treacherous facets, there are a lot of positive evolutions as well. We’ll take a look at the most significant improvements and changes that have and will continue to impact marketing and advertising in 2020.

Farms are Down

Every report we have published shows that device farms have declined. That makes sense, as device farms are often the simplest forms of ad fraud, and therefore, are the most detectable, due to their repetitive patterns. Additionally, ad fraud prevention has made great gains, in terms of awareness by the market, awareness, and action by the authorities (culminating in numerous lawsuits and arrests) and increase in ad fraud services availability and their accuracy and offerings.

Thus, it only makes sense, that while SDK spoofing, a more sophisticated form of ad fraud is increasing, device farms are decreasing.

Every marketer should ask their attribution provider how much of their campaigns are going to device farms. If this cannot be answered, we suggest you go elsewhere. Why? Device farms are one of the simplest forms of ad fraud to detect. At the very least, your ad fraud tool or MMP should be able to detect such a form of ad fraud.

Technology and Talent is Evolving

To put this into perspective, in one office alone, we have 20+ data scientists, engineers, developers and project managers. With this growing eclectic and expertly talent pool, it only makes sense that more and more ad fraud will be caught.

Awareness is Up

Through our own interactions on-the-ground, at tradeshows, at dinners, happy hours, meetings and every other event imaginable, we have seen that ad fraud awareness has certainly increased. This is good news. The next area of focus for 2020 will be understanding and awareness.

Acceptance is the key to acting upon this known threat. Without this, ad fraud will continue to limit your marketing and campaign performance.

Understanding is key to being able to determine the best ad fraud prevention tool for your needs. It will be the difference between saving thousands or millions of fraudulent clicks or installs.

These are two key ingredients to any successful risk management plan and will be key in 2020.


Final Thoughts on Mobile Ad Fraud in 2020

Ad fraud in 2020 will culminate in the sum-total of fraudsters’ skills attacking the entire marketing and advertising funnel. As this continues to include walled gardens, and as digital marketing managers will (as we predict) pool their efforts in these “safer” advertising environments, we predict this will be an area of vulnerability for marketing and advertising. Additionally, as ad fraud technology and capabilities increase, more sophisticated forms such as SDK spoofing will rise, while simpler forms such as device farms will decrease.

However, the single most important tool for fighting ad fraud will be awareness, acceptance, and understanding. Without this, it is impossible to act.

See you in 2020.


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