Mobile App Ad Fraud Up 30%

Mobile app marketers were exposed to $700 million to $800 million in ad fraud in the first quarter of the year, per fresh findings from AppsFlyer.

Those estimates -- which factor in media cost and third-party attribution market share -- represent a 30% increase since the same period last year, according to the mobile tracking and marketing firm. 

Since AppsFlyer’s last study, the share of fraudulent installs has grown by 15%, tainting 11.5% of all marketing-driven installs.

In other words, for every 1,000 non-organic installs markets pay for, 115 are fake.

Few mobile marketers seem immune the problem. Indeed, 22% of all apps now have over 10% fraudulent installs, while no fewer than 12% are significantly exposed with at least 30% fraudulent installs.

Due to their high cost-per-install and massive scale, shopping apps are most affected by mobile ad fraud. In the first quarter, in fact, shopping app marketers were exposed to an estimated $275 million in ad fraud.

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Other target categories include gaming (which was exposed to an estimated $103 million in ad fraud in the first quarter); finance ($90 million); travel ($65 million); and food & drink ($63 million).

With greater difficulty perpetrating device fraud on iOS, fraudsters are increasingly resorting mainly to “click flooding,” where iOS is well ahead of Android. In all other types of fraud, Android rates are much higher.

Click flooding -- also known as click spamming -- is a class of mobile fraud in whichnetworks send large numbers of fraudulent click reports in the hopes of delivering the last-click prior to installs.

As bad actors adapt to the marketplace, meanwhile, bots have become the most dangerous threat to marketers.

Bots are now responsible for over 30% of fraudulent installs, and, as of February, they have replaced device farms as the most popular form of attack, AppsFlyer finds.

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