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Mobile App Install Fraud

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The ad for your product goes on a long journey in the vast digital space before reaching its target audience. For this journey to end on an eligible human, you hire an advertiser to put your ad on the net. You pay them for the sake of making your product shine out in the digital world. Your product gets a lot of attribution; that is views and installs. The advertiser meets the demands for your ad campaign, and the campaign ends. Then you look at the statistics and see all is well, but curiously, the investment you made has not returned; in fact, it didn’t get you anything at all. That’s how you know you are the newest victim of ad fraud, and your losses are now added to the statistics of 65 Billion USD lost to ad fraud throughout the world. (Source: Statista).

After a renowned company, Uber disclosed that they lost two-thirds of their ad budget to Click Injection Mobile App Install Fraud in 2020, eyes opened to this grim reality. To avert your company from losing much money due to ad fraud, you need to create countermeasures before falling victim.

What is Mobile App Install Fraud

In Uber’s case, the company found out about the fraudulent activity during their ad campaign. But if the fraudsters used another method like Device Emulators or Install Farms, it would be too late until you know something’s up.

Committing a Mobile App Install Fraud involves using software emulation or building a device farm that tries to behave like a human while seemingly clicking the ad, installing the app, then deleting it when CPI (Cost Per Install) quota is met. Besides using the devices they own, fraudsters might actively steal app install information from an actual mobile device of a person to commit Click Injection fraud.

What Should Advertisers Know About Mobile App Install Fraud

As grim as it sounds, it is pretty easy to prevent such scenarios above. It gets easier to discern fraudulent activity with a correct understanding of their workings. Here are the types of Mobile App Ad Fraud and how they work.

  •  Device Emulators

As the name suggests, these software have many virtual devices disguised as organic audiences. The emulators constantly change their identity to fake a new device and get false attribution. Since they are coded to be automated and only one machine can act as several mobile devices, this type of fraud can make quite a tear in your ad budget.

  •  Install Farms

Not as efficient and compact as device emulators, install farms are quite the preferred direct way for fraudsters who want a quick buck from your ad budget. Many real and individual devices are programmed to click, install and open the application. Then the devices delete the app after meeting the quality specifications of your ad and refresh their Advertising ID (IDFA for Apple devices) to cover their tracks. Imagine how a 100-device farm clicking 24/7 would affect your ad statistics and budget.

  •  Click Injection Apps

Not all people are digitally conscious and do not know if an app is sending more data than it should. These apps are illegally provided via another Mobile Ad Fraud by Advertisers beforehand. These malicious apps installed on an unaware person’s device send forged data. This data falsifies or breaks the attribution process altogether and leaves you with wrong information fogging your real attribution statistics.

How Does App Install Fraud Work?

It is basically all about forging data. Advertisers are paid by CPI, and it is pretty hard to measure the “realness” of your target audience due to information disclosure laws. Naturally, it is possible that an Advertiser is taking advantage of you by creating an internal or external bot farm.

Why are Fake App Installs Important?

There is no such thing as good attribution but no sales. This false-positive advertisement info is actually the forged data in sheep’s clothing which will slowly eat away your ad budget for the current ad campaigns or, if it goes unnoticed, unfortunately the next ones too.

How to Prevent Mobile App Install Fraud?

Insisting on getting detailed ad data from your advertisement provider is a start. The next step here is to take the data under a microscope and try to see if any noticeable pattern is in the works. These patterns of audience behavior, such as how many clicks per install or the times of clicks will show if there is a fraudulent activity. However, as with AI constantly taking giant leaps towards the future, it also becomes harder to distinguish the bots from humans.

Final Words

Mobile Install App Fraud harms both customers and application owners and figuring out whether you are under the influence of ad fraud is much more challenging to figure out. However, with proper monitoring of statistical data and non-biological activity patterns, you might avoid it altogether. Interceptd provides detailed data about attribution and clicks/install patterns. Even though your campaign is currently under fraudulent activity, Interceptd provides real-time solutions and offline analysis to help you cut your losses or save you from the fraud before happening.

Check our new E-Book “How Interceptd Helped a Client Save $155k”

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