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Anatomy of Mobile Ad Fraud: Click Spamming

Updated: Jun 20, 2022

In recent years, mobile phones have come a long way. Smartphones have become a companion of our daily lives, with most of our activities centered on them. The widespread usage of mobile devices has had an impact on the advertising industry, with businesses spending money to reach out to mobile phone users. Mobile search results account for 65 percent of clicks on paid search results.

While marketers keep pumping money into mobile advertising, there is a negative aspect to it. There are cyber criminals who engage in mobile ad fraud to benefit from this market. Advertisers and marketers work hard to generate clicks and impressions, and they often get the desired results through various campaigns. However, in a majority of cases, these clicks and impressions do not translate into actual conversions. Well, this is because mobile ad fraud, and click spamming in particular, is impacting their marketing efforts and business.

Click spamming has long been a source of concern for mobile app advertisers, and this type of click fraud can be incredibly costly for advertisers. It can go unnoticed by ad networks for extended periods of time. Let's understand what is Click Spamming and how it works.

What is Click Spamming?

Click spamming, also known as click flooding, is a type of mobile ad fraud in which fraudsters can produce fake clicks through infected mobile apps or websites. Here, the mobile user, or the owner is unaware that a malicious app has been installed on their device. The app would then spam clicks on advertisements on the smartphone, giving the impression that the ad has had a lot of traffic. The click generated by click spam is non-human traffic, more specifically, BOT traffic, and thus would not result in any real transaction. Simply a waste of money on fake bot clicks.

Click flooding is used to generate fake clicks on advertisements, installs or downloads, or even impressions, visits, or views on websites. These clicks can operate when a program is operating in the background and often imitate actual human behaviour to trick marketers. Advertisers may see clicks or impressions as beneficial, but in reality, they are distorted statistics.

How does click spamming work?

The initial stage of this operation starts with the user when he or she might download suspicious software. These infected apps are typically downloaded outside of the Google Play Store or the iOS App Store. It is understandable when users download these since the app does not look suspicious, and more importantly, its fraudulent activity operates in the background. The app contains a code that generates a large number of clicks (spam clicking) on adverts. All ad clicks are allocated to the click spammer, and if there is an ad click, an unrelated app store download, or an in-app purchase, the spammer gets paid. As a result, it makes a platform appear more effective than they are and it defrauds marketers of their ad spend.

Spammers invest in click spamming operations because it is a lucrative business, with the fraudster receiving their cut on ad clicks or in-app purchases. The higher the number of undetected spam clicks, the greater the prize money. However, for the advertiser, it might imply that there is a lot of activity on their ads, but there isn’t. Their ads are filled with a large number of fake clicks before any form of conversion. In long term, it not only affects their ad spending but their marketing campaigns and strategies as well.

Click Spamming | Com Olho

Who Is Affected By Click Spamming Fraud?

Click Spamming fraud affects almost every player in the advertising industry, even if the consequences vary. It marginally affects the users but has a significant financial impact if you are a network, publisher, or advertising.

Marketers and Advertisers

Click spamming can have a significant impact on the marketing spending of any business. Advertisers are paying for clicks and spammers are doing their bit to flood their ads with clicks, well fake clicks. Many advertisers use the pay-per-click (PPC) model, and each false ad click is stealing their money, thus affecting their company's revenue.

In addition, this will also have a negative impact on their future marketing efforts. The inaccurate results, the inability to distinguish between real or fake clicks, and the dependence on fraudulent reports mean poor decision-making by the marketers.

Networks and Publishers

Publishers on the other hand are the one who places adverts on different platforms, including mobile devices, for advertisers. And thus, they are the ones who should get paid for any activity on the ads, be it click, installs, or visits. It is their money that is being stolen from them because a code takes the credit from them, and the money into the pocket of the fraudsters.


The mobile phone user might not face any monetary losses, however, they are also affected by this mobile ad fraud. A malicious app is secretly operating on their mobile devices, and this always poses a threat to their confidential files. They can also experience performance issues on their devices due to these malicious apps.

How To Detect and Prevent Click Spamming Mobile Ad Fraud?

Examine your traffic and conversions

Keeping a close watch on your traffic source can assist you in identifying click spamming. These invalid traffic are frequently caused by a large volume of traffic in a short period of time. However, they never result in any real conversions. Sudden increases in traffic, but only a few conversions can indicate fraudulent click activity. Going deeper into the source of poor traffic can help in eliminating click spamming attacks.

Validation of Apps

As discussed, malicious code can enter into a user's device through malicious apps only. It is thus the responsibility of the publishers as well as the marketers not to associate with such applications. Always look out for the validity of the app on app stores and it is also possible to ensure if the code within an app is not harmful or not.

Combat Mobile Ad Fraud by Being Proactive

Ad Fraud detection requires special expertise. Fraudsters are only getting smarter and bots are progressing to the point where they can imitate a real human user. Thus it becomes imperative to switch to anti-fraud solutions that are specifically engineered to prevent your campaigns and ad spending from such frauds.

Com Olho’s solution can help enterprises prevent multiple forms of ad fraud before they have the chance to steamroll their campaigns and bleed their budgets dry. Find out more about how Com Olho can help protect your advertising campaigns by scheduling a free demo.

In Conclusion

Digitalisation has taken over the advertisement sector. Resultantly, marketers rely on digital marketing to reach out to their audiences in cyberspace. A platform that is filled with scammers. When marketers boost their investments in digital advertising, scammers always find a way to profit. As a digital advertiser or publisher, you should be aware of these mobile ad fraud practices and their impact on your marketing efforts. Take proactive and preventative actions to ensure that click fraud like click spamming is recognised and stopped as soon as possible.

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