Mobile Ad Fraud in 2019: H1 in Review

The State of Mobile Fraud: H1 2019
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Millions of app downloads and app sessions. Countless mobile ad campaigns. This is just some of the data we analyzed to form our 2018 and 2019 ad fraud reports. With our data scientists, developers, and fraud consultants, we have a strong handle on the landscape of fraud. For the first time in history, digital ad spend surpassed traditional ad spend in the US. Digital and mobile in on an upward trajectory in terms of revenue spend AND ad fraud. So buckle up, because 2020 is coming, and ad fraud is not going anywhere (unless you deal with it, of course). 

NB: all ad fraud statistics and infographics are based on the following three reports unless stated otherwise:

Q2 | 2019 Mobile Ad Fraud Report

2019 Q1 Mobile Ad Fraud Report

State of Mobile Ad Fraud 2018

Ad Fraud Landscape in H1 2019

Digital and mobile is king. Thus, ad fraud has a very fertile breeding ground, from which to reproduce. Sexy. And grow it did. According to our ad fraud statistics, from 2018- Q2 2019, Android’s fraudulent traffic has grown 13.2% whilst iOS has grown 17.3%. In 2019, ad fraud began to become on top of marketers’ agenda and awareness is growing. At the time of writing this, there are now 61 million results in Google News for “ad fraud”. The #adfraud was tweeted 170 times this year, whilst in 2018 was tweeted only 99 times. I know this because I counted them. Every single on. I’m meticulous like that. In summation, in H1 2019, digital and mobile is king. Ad fraud continues to grow, as does ad fraud solutions. Whilst marketer’s awareness of ad fraud is a slow burn on the growth scale. 

Mobile Ad Fraud Trends

For the third time in a row, shopping is the category most vulnerable to ad fraud for iOS, whilst finance, is again the most vulnerable category for Android. Let’s look at some trends that continued into H1 2019. 

    • SDK Spoofing continues to grow. It increased from 6% in Q1, 2018, to 20% in Q2, 2019.  SDK spoofing is a more sophisticated form of ad fraud. It arose as a result of increasing ad fraud detection efforts.
    • Device farms continue to decrease. Device farms have experienced a steady decline, from a hearty 38% in Q1 2018, to 21% in Q2, 2019
    • Mobile Ad Fraud continues to increase. According to our ad fraud statistics, on both iOS and Android, the rate of fraudulent traffic continues to grow steadily, even amidst available ad fraud detection tools (see image above). 
    • False-positives are an increasing issue. According to our market research and existing customers, a common problem that exists is that some ad fraud detection tools block aggressively, and thus produce too many false-positives. This is something that Interceptd actively attempts to prevent, and also acknowledges as an increasing trend. 

iOS Mobile Ad Fraud

According to Interceptd data, in Q2, 2019 iOS advertisers lost $16 million of advertising spend per day to fraudulent traffic. Analyzing our ad fraud statistics, this loss is only expected to increase to as much as $30 million per day by 2022. Whilst the market perception is that iOS is far safer than Android, both application stores are experiencing a growth in term of their mobile ad fraud traffic. One difference remains that there is no click injection on iOS. However, this gap is filled by other forms such as click spamming, SDK spoofing and device farms. In the App Store, the most fraud-vulnerable categories are;

  • Shopping (34%)
  • Gaming (33.4%)
  • Finance (31%)
  • Travel (26.5%)
  • Lifestyle (23%)
  • Food & Delivery (23%)

Android Mobile Ad Fraud

According to ad fraud statistics, in Q2, 2019 advertisers lost $38 million of advertising spend per day to fraudulent traffic in Android. This loss is only forecasted to increase and is anticipated to reach $70 million per day by 2022. Google Play typically deletes an alarming number of adware and malicious apps from their Play Store every year. In 2018 alone, Google deleted over 700,000 apps from their Play Store that was deemed as “malicious”. In Google Play, the most fraud-vulnerable categories are; 

  • Finance (37.8%) 
  • Shopping (33.4%) 
  • Gaming (37%) 
  • Social (33.4%) 
  • Travel & Local (34%)
The State of Mobile Ad Fraud- H1, 2019 - infographic and statistics
Source: Interceptd Q2 Ad Fraud Report. These ad fraud statistics shows the types of ad fraud present in the iOS Finance Category

Final Thoughts on Mobile Ad Fraud in H1

We compiled these reports because we take ad fraud seriously. However, it is not our campaigns that are being targeted and our budget that is being siphoned, it is yours. We want to enable our customers to make solid marketing decisions based on accurate data. We encourage our customers to diversify their ad spend, with the confidence that they’re getting a clean ad network experience. If you’d like to find out, how your category is affected, you can download a copy of the report here.


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