Updated: May 27
Given all the developments in digital advertising over the last year, with Apple and Google announcing major platform changes, staying vigilant against mobile ad fraud may have taken a back seat. Mobile ad fraud, however, is never going away.
Mobile Ad Fraud is a subset of ad fraud plaguing mobile based performance campaigns. It is a collective term used to describe a combination of tactics used to stop digital ads from being delivered to the audiences or spaces for which they were intended. These tactics often include the use of bots, click injection, click spamming, organic hijacking, device farms, SDK spoofing etc.
These tactics allow ad fraudsters to syphon off enterprise’s ad spend dollars while the ads themselves fail to generate brand exposure, leads and sales because they were never seen by an actual person. Besides hurting the advertisers, mobile ad fraud also hurts publishers by driving down the ROAS and decreasing the overall value of ads.
Advertisement-related frauds will continue to be a major threat in mobile environments in 2022. Last year broke records for ad spending. According to a recent forecast, global digital advertising in 2021 was expected to grow by 15.6% over 2020, reaching $705 billion — well above pre-pandemic levels. Unfortunately, this advertising boom also triggered mobile advertising fraud. As businesses kick off their 2022 marketing plans, there's one thing they shouldn't overlook — a strategy for combating mobile ad fraud to protect their return on ad spend (ROAS).
According to a study, ad fraud costs the marketing industry an estimated $51 million per day, and these losses are likely to increase to $100 billion annually by 2023. Sophisticated nonhuman bots, which are actively involved in ad fraud, are responsible for roughly 18% of all internet traffic in the marketing business.
Digital advertising operates within a complex system with many loopholes where fraud can infiltrate, but with a little guidance, advertisers can mitigate fraud that gets past prevention measures.
Approaches To Fighting Mobile Ad Fraud
Fraud is a moving and changing target, and it hides behind the performance numbers CMOs are looking for in the first place. The goal is to not wait until something major occurs to make you pay attention. The goal is to pay attention on saving ad spend that doesn’t take much time or resources from enterprise's marketing team.
Look Beyond Install Numbers
Examine your conversions, post-install rates and numbers using cohort. This is where you're more likely to notice anomalies like a strange device ID or email address, and then check into the behaviours linked with these potentially fraudulent identities. Click to install time is another metric to consider. Instal events that happen too quickly or in groups can be marked for further evaluation.
Be Aware Of Your Audience Reach
User acquisition is one of the most important aspects, however the farther your reach, the less trustworthy the traffic becomes. You'll be more exposed to fraud if you use lower CPIs or have a wider reach. There are only so many ad partners out there, therefore in order to meet demand and for client's growth, they may have to rely on marginal traffic. To stop suspicious traffic, make sure you have traffic verification methods in place.
Mobile Ad Fraud Detection
Some enterprises use mobile ad fraud detection software to spot invalid clicks across their programmatic/display advertising, as well as paid search and social channels. The software can detect clicks and impressions that are generated by bots on paid campaigns and then blocks them, thus preventing them from continuing to syphon money away from the campaign.
Mobile ad fraud detection software relies on detecting patterns that resemble suspicious actions in an ad’s impressions, clicks, traffic or IP addresses — or a mix of all those data sources. It compares clicks on ads to its database, and if it detects an anomaly, it notifies users in real time so advertisers can analyse their data.
Data analytics helps enterprises pinpoint sources of fraud. Advertisers can use data analytics tools to get a variety of performance indicators on their marketing efforts, such as web traffic across their digital assets and information on potential customers who interact with their ads.
With this much bad data in enterprises marketing stacks, it’s no surprise that a significant portion of their total ad spend doesn't deliver any return on investment.
Modern data analytics tools utilise machine learning to analyse massive amounts of data and discover anomalies that often indicate fraudulent activity. In turn, this helps enable advertisers to identify fraudulent traffic and prevent further damage by quickly adjusting their ad strategy and divesting from bad traffic in favour of good traffic. Verifying their data across multiple channels also helps enterprises prevent bad data from impacting the rest of their data set, ensuring that their ads reach real and actual target customers.
Mobile ad fraud has been a major issue worldwide in the last two years, fuelled by rise in digital during the pandemic and it's projected to become an even more concerning issue in 2022. To get the most from their campaigns, enterprises will want to consider investing in solutions that validate the accuracy of their data and ensure that their ad budgets result in impressions and clicks that actually generate the desired results and values.