How to Fight Against Mobile Ad Fraud

Since mobile market continues to grow, so is the ad fraud reality. This is the moment to discuss an unpleasant but so necessary topic in mobile market environment, which is mobile ad fraud. To define better ad fraud we can say it is an action generated by non – human traffic like bots, which are software created to generate repeated actions, or even by humans with no chances of viewability, like invisible ads that can run in the background even if the user sees only the top one. Ad fraud is a huge problem because it determinates additional costs for both mobile marketers and app owners. Because ad fraud is built on the lack of vigilance from customers it means a waste of money for both sides. It is a real challenge to take measures against this phenomenon but if you are aware of the harm it produces then you must consider all the strategies available to avoid it and to fight against ad fraud generators. For these thieves, it doesn’t matter if the operating system is Android or iOS because they attack everything. The following chart of a research published by eMarketer shows that almost half of the respondents consider that fraud/viewability is the biggest barriers to programmatic purchasing for mobile inventory.


Types of Mobile Fraud

With the large diversity of elements in the mobile world, it is very hard to track and discover fraudulent events. The biggest problem of ad fraud is the variety and the possibility of transforming in various forms. But we can define two main types:

  1. Technical Fraud as its name suggests is an action made with the intention of faking an advertising element like an app install, click or impression.
  2. Compliance Fraud is a strategy created specifically with the purpose of breaking the rules of a platform.

These two types can be seen in different stages of user conversion funnel. From this perspective, we can divide ad fraud into other types like Impression Fraud, Click Fraud or Install And Post – Install Fraud.

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Ways to Prevent Mobile Ad Fraud

Because it is always better to prevent than cure, we will list some key points that should be considered when an app is involved in a marketing campaign.

  1. The first step is to realize the gravity of the problem. If you are not aware of the risks you expose your entire strategy then you can’t find the right resources that will help you take the appropriate decisions.
  2. Define a pattern of ad fraud. This can be applied to both types of ad fraud. Specialists can detect fraudulent actions using programs and observe detailed reports and they are able to create a model of these movements. After that, they can avoid similar operations.
  3. Share your data with marketers. Providing post – install information to advertising team could be a solution since it is harder to simulate human actions in upper levels of the conversion funnel.
  4. Create a database of IPs that meets the criteria of being fraudulent. If you discovered a model of ad fraud and possible strange actions that came from specific IPs then you must save that in a database and be careful with them.
  5. Unifying the forces. If everybody that has to do with this problem would share their information and database then this association could be transformed in a powerful weapon with the scope of eliminating as much as possible this awful phenomenon.


Ways to Detect Mobile Ad Fraud

Even if you applied the above tactics and you still have problems, there are some techniques that can help you to discover if you are the target of an ad fraud action.
1- Be aware of the problems around you. There are studies that prove the fact that fraudulent moves were detected more in countries with high budgets like Germany, Australia, USA, United Kingdom or China. So, the ad fraud density coincides with the amount of money that is spent in your region.

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2. Be careful with the IPs. If there is a big number of installs or click generated by the same IP then something is not right. In the same time watch for anomalies like the distinct IP location between ad click and app install.
3. Another situation where you can observe ad fraud is when many installs are driven from the same device model or if clicks and installs happen very frequent. About the installs, be sure there are no empty fields for carrier, city or country.
4. At the same time keep your eye on device IDs. If there are different for the same device or the Advertising ID is not in lowercase or uppercase then you should be very attentive.
5. If you observe strange coincidences like older app versions, low conversion rates or high uninstall rates then prepare yourself to fight against ad fraud.

How To Fight Mobile Ad Fraud After Detect

Well, if you tried to prevent ad fraud and you still discovered some issues related to your marketing campaign, then you must fight them like a real samurai.


Although, the above report shows different percentages of responsibility for combating ad fraud in different structures we all need to be aware of the gravity of this theft. If we are ready to face the problem then we must do everything that is in our power to fight ad fraud:

  1. Prepare anti-fraud policy which contains rules and other methodologies against this phenomenon.
  2. Look for high standards in the relationship with partners. You need to create a list with reliable collaborators because this will reduce the risk to throw your money out the window. There are even agencies that offer money – back guarantees for the clients that are victims of a fraudulent attack.
  3. Spread the word about scams. You realize that you should avoid cheap offers. If the price for ads is too small then you have to stay away from the ones that say they can do a lot with low cost. But if you discover fraudulent behavior, tell anybody that should know and be involved in educating others about how to prevent ad fraud.
  4. Choose a person responsible to manage the program. He will be in charge of all the actions of the team in preventing and detecting fraudulent signals.
  5. Stay informed about the certification programs. Although these plans are still at the beginning there are some lists available for you to check and to decide what is the best direction for your strategy. You can take a look at this list of General Invalid Traffic (GIVT) accredited companies or you can see a recently updated list of Compliant – Self Asserted


Final Thoughts

There is fraud in every domain and app marketing is no exception. Although the ones that generate it are very versatile and change their strategy from moment to moment you need to keep yourself informed and to apply the above techniques for prevention, detection, and elimination. But remember, the more we are in this battle the stronger will be our defense. If we unify our weapons and we drive awareness for all the players involved in-app advertising then we will get the victory over ad fraud.

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