Source: Mobile report 2017-7-28 17:09

All that you need to know about Mobile Ad Frauds

All that you need to know about Mobile Ad Frauds

Mobile ad fraud is costing marketers a small fortune of their incomes. While it’s not known for sure, exactly how much fraudsters make, it’s estimated that the losses could range anywhere between $7.2 billion and $16.4 billion in 2017.

With so many dollars of money at stake, it’s crucial that you understand the ins and outs of the issue, to take active measures to stay protected.

Here, in this article, you can find the answers to all the queries you have on the subject. Let’s get started.

1.       To begin with, what exactly constitutes mobile ad fraud?

Mobile ad fraud is a fraudulent activity that occurs in mobiles. The term “Ad fraud” is an umbrella term that defines ad hacks happening on any digital platform be it on laptops, desktops and handheld devices.

Ad fraud is a deliberate criminal activity that is premeditated and designed to rob advertisers. Most of the mobile ad scams are perpetrated by bots. Bots are nothing but lines of code or customized software that performs repetitive tasks on a loop.

Not all bots are inherently evil. Several genuine bots perform highly useful functions. For instance, Google makes use of several bots to read through millions of web pages, find out what they are about and rank them appropriately.

However, bots used by fraudsters are different. These bots deliberately increase the views of an ad, so that the criminal entity earns a share of the advertising revenue.

However, the point to be noted here is that while most of these bots do not cause any harm to the unsuspecting victims, the malicious intent behind them is considered as a criminal offense.

2.       Can you give some examples of how mobile ad frauds are perpetrated?

There a huge range of fraud tactics. Here are a few examples:

Ø  Bots that secretly gain control of unsuspecting user mobiles and spawn page views that aren’t actually seen by the device owner.

Ø  Botnets (a network of hijacked computers) that mimic consumer traffic. These machines fake traffic to rapidly generate thousands of page views.

Ø  Software that generates hundreds of clicks every time a user makes a single click.

Ø  Videos that play automatically without the user’s knowledge. These are tiny and sometimes even invisible on the web page.

Ø  Background apps, app name spoofing, hidden ads.


3.       How to distinguish between unethical advertising and true mobile ad frauds?

The line between unethical advertising and ad fraud is a fine line and often blurry. Let’s take the example of selling inventory that has been automatically generated by bots. On the other contrary, an advertiser can choose to buy the cheapest inventory, not aware that this will be placed along with several other ads on the page.

Fraud is surely a deliberate activity that prevents the accurate delivery of ads at the right time to the right audience. When the advertiser is deliberately deceived, then you can be pretty sure that an ad fraud is committed.

4.       Do poor ad exposures like a carousel or stack constitute ad fraud?

Ad carousels aren’t considered as a fraudulent activity if the advertiser has knowingly paid for it. On the other hand, ad stacking is a scam because when your ad is stacked below another, your ad loses its chance of visibility even though you have paid for it. For a clear idea, of what is ad fraud and what isn’t check out this handy illustration.

5.       What is the purpose of fraudulent traffic and who gains from it?

The one word answer as to what fraudsters gain is “Money” and lots of it. Fraudsters are smart. They earn revenue in the following two ways.

1.       From fake sites

2.       From real sites

Fraudsters set up a fake site that they own and control. Next, they sign up to a few genuine ad networks. These ad networks display their ads on these sites. Fraudsters make money whenever someone clicks or views these ads displayed on their sites. Everything up to here is legal. What makes this criminal activity is that instead of real people clicking on the ads, the fraudsters set up a botnet to interact with the site automatically. This spawns millions of fake views, and the advertisers don’t gain any real value from the ads and end up losing income.

Fraudsters also create bots that visit legitimate sites and collect cookies from them and create the illusion of appearing as high-value targets. The bots then visit the fake site and redirect expensive ads to it.

6.       Are legitimate publishers penalized as a result of fraudulent activity?

Sadly, yes. Legitimate publishers are very often victims of mobile ad frauds. They run real sites that have to affiliation to bot operators. The bots mimic the actions of legitimate readers who visit their site and end up making more money on their fake sites.

7.       Is there any baseline limit for mobile fraud tolerance?

In an ideal world, the level should be zero tolerance. However, the digital world is far from ideal, and zero tolerance is not a reality, especially if you don’t want to filter out false positives. However, the tolerance level should be a single digit figure if you want to gain the maximum out of your campaign.

Here’s a good rule of thumb to determine if the fraudulent activity is within limits or goes beyond. If you find that the fraudulent activity numbers shock you, then it’s certainly too much. If you aren’t capable of reaching your predetermined targets because of fraud, then it’s too much.

But, if you come across a few shady sources while your ROI is on the incline, then it doesn’t require any drastic action, and you can increase your prevention mechanisms.

The Bottom Line

While there’s no arguing the fact that mobile ad frauds are nothing but criminal activities, you must understand that fraudsters aren’t going away anywhere. So, if you want to prevent your ad revenues from ending up in the pockets of fraudsters, it’s essential that you up your knowledge and make use of the best tools in hand to stay protected.