Finance Mobile Apps Most Exposed To Fraud, Gaming Hit By Install Hijacking

As mobile app demand and acquisition activity spiked during the first half of 2020 due to COVID-19, fraudsters tried hard to take advantage of a higher number of people online and downloading apps.

For example, more people began to use banking apps to make deposits. AppsFlyer, which focuses on mobile attribution, found finance apps were the most exposed vertical at 40%, but gaming apps were more susceptible to install hijacking.

The data is part of an annual fraud report — The State of Mobile Ad Fraud 2020 Edition — released this week. Data from the report shows how app fraud impacted the world in the first half of 2020, including how exposure to app install fraud fell 30% to $1.6 billion.

The U.S. experienced low rates of app-install fraud in the first half of the year. The average fraud rate of 3.4% in the U.S. is 75% lower than the global rate of 13.2%.

Android devices were discovered to have ad fraud more than 4.5 times compared with iOS devices.

The State of Mobile Ad Fraud: 2020 Global & US Trends is an anonymous aggregate of proprietary global data from 7 billion app installs across 173,000 apps. Of this, 1.3 billion app installs across 33,000 apps were specific to North America.

Risk is described in the report as “financial exposure.” The U.S. experiences low rates of app install fraud, with an average of about 3.4% -- 75% lower than the 13.2% global rate.

APAC markets, which are traditionally more exposed to ad fraud, are responsible for nearly 60% of financial exposure worldwide, totaling about $945 million.

Notably, there has also been an improvement in APAC -- particularly in Southeast Asia -- where rates have dropped 50% in April-June 2020 vs. July-September 2019.

Gaming apps are largely succeeding in beating fraud. Among non-gaming apps, 32% of non-organic installs are fraudulent, while gaming apps saw a much lower rate of 3.8%.

Among non-gaming verticals, finance (48%) and travel (45%) suffer from the highest fraud rates, due to high cost-per-install rates and large marketing budgets.

Bot attacks continue to dominate, with about 62% of fraudulent installs are a result of bot attacks.

Install hijacking -- particularly for gaming apps -- and click flooding, are on the rise, with click flooding up to 21% in APAC.

Post-attribution fraud is on the rise. This type of advanced fraud — installs that cannot be blocked in real-time — climbed to 24% globally in January and February, and in the U.S., peaking at 51% of apps in March. There has also been a substantial increase in in-app fraud, especially among gaming apps, as fraudsters seek lucrative cost per action (CPA) payouts on top of cost per install (CPI) payouts.

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