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In App Bot Traffic : Ruining User Experience and fueling Black Market

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

Ever wondered why Ad Tech companies with no real inventories and most questioned for ad fraud are able to deliver on KPI's that matter the most? Have you been running an eCommerce mobile application and frequently supply limited & heavy discounted ad creatives to your ad tech vendors?

The eCommerce landscape is so competitive, every performance marketer goal is to have maximum end of the funnel conversions keeping the user experience as the top priority. But do humans really scale?

Next Generation Bots : In App Bot Fraud

Those days are gone when cyber criminals used to target mobile app's marketing budgets for soft KPI conversions such as fake impressions, fake clicks and fake installs. While the marketers became aware of such a organized crime siphoning off there precious budgets, usage of preventive tools and measurements became a part of budgets.

The New Age bots are programmed to act like a human and carry out specific in-app events, often tailor made for single mobile application. These bots are so sophisticated, they evade all fraud templates and are becoming a new headache for advertisers and policy makers globally.

At this year’s Mobile World Congress conference, James Hilton, global CEO at M&C Saatchi Performance, urged the industry to work together to get the problem under control, observing that cyber criminals “use devious ways to keep pushing and maximizing revenue” through bots and “by spotting them through AI we can be a step ahead.”

How is In App Fraud fueling retail black market?

1. Reselling Products: In App Bots often mimic human behavior to buy out high demand and low priced products on the e-commerce mobile applications. This forces legitimate users to purchase these items at a higher marked up resale prices, creating a bad user experience and deincentivizing loyal customers. These bots not only help siphoning off advertiser's budgets for a valid purchase and qualifying for all KPI's, but also help black-market supply chain gain momentum by supplying below cost price products into the market due to promotional heavy discounting done by e-vendors.

2. Fake Log-ins : Bots have dreams and they are highly ambitious, one of most easiest way to siphon of advertiser budgets is to gain access to real user and trigger product purchases or skim credit cards/UPI's which later lead to much bigger thread, financial fraud.

3. Deliberate Data Fudging : Since data has the ability to recognize and capture potential fraud and their endorsers, today cyber criminals are trying to deliberately skew this data to evade detection. This is triggering a much bigger problem for eCommerce players since these data decision fuels feedback loops and re-targeting algorithms.


1. Deploy AI to uncover systematic Fraud : No matter how big and difficult the ad fraud fraud problem is, it is solvable. Cyber criminals like scale, and real humans don't scale. We need to deploy AI algorithms that follow the principals of behavior & scale.

2. Creating new verification events now and then : Bots have not reached a level of self learning, any new event in between would crack the bot up, advertisers should keep on adding random checks between in-app events to systemically break down any bot operation.

3. Taking Legal Measures against Culprits : Just like Uber took the media agencies, ad networks and ad tech players to court to question them on their data practices, more players should follow. Until the industry doesn't take a strong stand that fake traffic is non acceptable, this menace won't stop.



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