Mobile Ad Fraud: Guide for Marketers

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The successful operation of a marketer in the digital marketing sector requires concentration on mobile marketing according to current market information, market segmentation and future market trends, but mobile marketing is also subject to high market concentration, just like digital marketing in general, making it a delicious field of operation for fraudsters. In this blog post, we will try to explain the important topics such as understanding mobile ad fraud in general, detection of mobile ad fraud and thus, managing a healthy marketing campaign.

What is Mobile Ad Fraud

Like in every operation, gaining unfair advantage by using market vulnerabilities and in this way, violating advertising standards or manipulating metrics data by using simple or sophisticated methods is called fraud. In digital marketing ecosystem, these illegal activities are handled by fraudsters.

Since the mobile digital marketing sector is rapidly developing, mostly in parallel with innovation and technology trends, fraud methods that we encounter can now be carried out by huge international operations which causes million-dollar marketing budget loss.

Basics of Mobile Ad Fraud

Fundamentally, mobile ad fraud is generally carried out by botnets or click farms with the common purpose of generating fake impressions or engagements due to the inner workings of how a mobile ad campaign work.

Bots, in this case are mostly used for spreading malicious software online to create impressions from the end-user side or infiltrating the ad networks to relay the ad itself or manipulate its statistics from inside, resulting in mobile ad fraud forms such as SDK spoofing or click injection, the more sophisticated forms of ad fraud.

Click farms, on the other hand, operate on a different level. A huge number of physical devices, working automatically and in extreme speeds to carry out nearly anything a biological user can do is what bot farms became nowadays. Sometimes, fraudsters can fill out building complexes with thousands of machines and their automated programs can reach the limits of sophistication, passing as a biological user for a defenseless ad campaign. We can assume that attribution fraud types such as Click Spamming or Click injection are the tactics commonly used in those operations albeit in mass execution in comparison to malicious software injected into unaware users’ phones.

In both cases, the data collected by attribution providers bears utmost importance in identifying mobile ad fraud running amok in the marketing campaign. If we go into a more detailed explanation, any abnormalities such as very low or very high values in CTIT, New Device Rates, Conversion Rates might hide an ongoing fraud. Although any organic user can block Device Sensor Info and Limit Ad Tracking, excessive amounts of it in your analytics are also signs of mobile ad fraud due to the nature of the operation being obligated to hide such info to survive.

Profiles of Fraudsters

A successive ad fraud operation aims to be invisible to marketers. They try to not focus on just one type of fraud and use bury their illegal activities among organic activities to divert attention. In the meantime, they always try to expand their reach and designate new opportunities just to steal more profit while also forming contingency plans if they feel that they are under suspicion.

It is also clear that upholding such operations and trying to be one step ahead of solutions against ad fraud requires extreme adequacy in technical knowledge and a lot of resources. So, we can come into conclusion that most of the fraudsters are basically investment operations made by highly educated people.

The Evolution of Mobile Ad Fraud

Since the introduction of app stores for mobile phones, ad fraud was also there, but recent years are the golden age of it. Regulation changes and increased awareness to this topic along with implementations to app stores are becoming a regular thing nowadays. Unfortunately, with every implementation comes another backdoor, again due to the size of the market. For example, the world has learned that fraudsters have an inclination to operate on countries which has little to no regulations on such matters. However, they can mask their Geolocation Data or Provider Info, fortunately to some extent, via VPN’s and other support programs.

Also, the increasing advocation on user anonymity and the companies abiding to the end-users enabled fraudsters to blend among organic users.

Final Words

As the world is progressing towards a future with most of its population carrying endless advertisement spaces in their pockets, and marketers are already taking advantage of this opportunity, fraudsters are also cutting their share forcibly and generously. While the projections of losses due to Ad Fraud have increased to 100 billion U.S. dollars for 2023, defending against Ad Fraud with the help of professional solution becomes more apparent than ever. Interceptd is here to keep you one step ahead of every threat and save your company’s resources with its easy-to-use and Real-Time Ad Fraud Prevention technologies.

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