Up To 40% Of Mobile Ad Clicks May Be Accidents Or Fraud?

Iphone-Facebook-thumb-BIn a new batch of self-interested research results that are sure to get industry tongues wagging, app marketing platform Trademob is claiming that 40% of the clicks they see on mobile ads are “useless.” A six-week study done earlier this summer on 6 million clicks worldwide was shared this weekend exclusively with GigaOm. Trademob offers an app marketing platform that manages campaigns across many of the major ad networks like Smaato, AdMob and Millennial Media, among others.

The click study claims that 18% of the clicks they tracked were fraudulent. The company says this share represents a marked rise from 10% earlier this year. The main culprits in mobile click fraud are publisher-deployed server schemes that ratchet up clicks on an ad, botnets that take over infected devices to perform false clicks and hidden banners that count one click twice from the same tap.

But even more than fraud, Trademob claims that the fat finger phenomenon is to blame for most of the 40% of clicks that are useless to the marketer. Accidental taps account for the 22% of irrelevant ad clickthroughs.

According to GigaOm, Trademob’s tracking software analyzes uses header and IP data to determine fraudulent clicks. It is not as clear how the company is determining accidental clicks, however. As GigaOm points out, the figure is not out of line with an earlier user survey by Harris Interactive and Pontiflex where 47% of mobile users said they were as likely to click a mobile ad by mistake as they were on purposes.

To be sure, Trademob has a vested interest in emphasizing what it calls “useless” clicks, since it helps keep pricing lower. It is a finding that uses a broad brush that includes a wide range of venues and ad networks worldwide. It is hard to believe that such statistics hold up if the sample is limited to premium publishers or the most reputable ad networks. Which is not to say that the accidental click is not an issue. I find that the fat finger is less the problem than the scrolling swipe. With the increased use of the persistent banner on the bottom of a mobile site or app, it is easy for the thumb to catch a banner pixel haphazardly during the act of super-scrolling.   

4 comments about "Up To 40% Of Mobile Ad Clicks May Be Accidents Or Fraud? ".
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  1. Don Scott from BH Media Group, Inc., September 4, 2012 at 1:55 p.m.

    It's to be expected that some click fraud will exist. As for the 'fat finger' problem, finding any kind of truly accurate number will take a good bit more research than anyone has done to date.

    However, the main issue is that we are once again thinking that clicks are THE measure for advertising. It's easy, but not really the standard of measurement marketers need.

    So are we just lazy or simply gullible?

  2. Chris Dorsey from Forum Communications Company, September 5, 2012 at 7:35 a.m.

    Could not have said it better Don.

  3. Viviane Wanderley from MRM/McCann, September 5, 2012 at 5:36 p.m.

    I agree with Don.
    We, marketers, must look beyond clicks. We need to look at engagement rate (if the creative unit allows for that), site traffic, and etc. so we can make smarter optimizations and have a more realistic ROI.

  4. Howie Schwartz from Human Demand, September 5, 2012 at 10:35 p.m.

    I agree with Chris - this is not about the
    'Click' . . .

    A good percentage of current mobile campaigns are CPI (Cost Per Install) focused. This requires not only a click but a completed download / install of a mobile app.

    If there is ‘so much’ fraud / accidental clicks then there would not be positive ROI for advertisers / developers – which is NOT the case.

    Is there SOME click fraud? Sure there is (look at online / desktop). Its a bad / sad part of the ecosystem.

    Are there SOME accidental clicks? Sure there are – and this is a unique challenge on mobile.

    BUT if it was 40% (I number I do not believe at all based on our data / experience) then CPI (performance and ROI focused campaigns) would never work on mobile – and they clearly do as this is such a large part of overall spend across the ecosystem.

    Howie Schwartz
    CEO & Founder
    Human Demand

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