Mobile Advertising Fraud (Part-2)

Mobile Advertising Fraud

In our previous blog of Mobile Advertising Fraud. Lets continue to discuss the same. Mobile advertising has its own advantages in terms of benefiting the marketers and engaging with the customers, but it is also being used in fraud.

Yes! There are many examples of mobile fraud advertisement. For those, who have become a part of mobile advertising, it is really difficult to escape from its fraud.

As the dependency of marketers is growing on mobile advertising for a successful business, fraudsters have also come up with numerous ways to scam digital marketers, advertisement agencies, mobile application developers, and several attribution partners.

As per the reports, it has been analyzed that close to 50% of ad impressions served on Internet Explorer were non-human or artificial traffic. AppsFlyer has mentioned that mobile advertising fraud has been increased by 30% in the year 2018. The reason behind mentioning these facts is to understand the seriousness of mobile advertising fraud.

As per statista, there are approx. 2.5 billion smartphone users all across the world. India, China, Indonesia are mobile-heavy markets, and it is likely to grow in coming years. Digital marketers are majorly focused on growing their business through mobile advertising whereas fraudsters are looking forward to betting on a lack of diligence from some customers.

Smartphones, being a user-friendly device, offers amazing opportunities to digital marketers such as it comes with various media formats, mobile operating systems, mobile browsing and access to numerous applications. Along with rich opportunities provided to digital marketers, it also offers various points of attack to the fraudsters.

These fraudsters are using malicious techniques such as programming applications in such a way that it will be showing malicious ads continuously even after the user has finished using it. Users are being served with multiple impressions to both browser and application and after just one click the device can be hijacked to go on ad-interacting sprees without the user knowing it.

Let’s know more about the types of mobile advertising fraud:

  1. Cost-Per-Mile (CPM): Cost-per-mile or CPM is a mobile advertising process where the advertiser pays five thousand impressions, but they can be deceived by serving the impressions on ads. This clearly takes away the chance of advertisement to be viewed by the customer. CPM comprises several frauds such as unstoppable applications, stacked ads, video auto-play, and invisible pixels.

Unstoppable applications: Applications are manipulated in such a manner that loads ads continuously, even when the user is not using it.
Stacked ads: Several advertisements are being layered on one another in single ad placement. Although the user gets to see only one ad on his/her screen, but the advertisers are being charged for these fake impressions.
Video auto-play: Here, fraudsters play unnoticeable or automatically played videos in the background; costing the advertiser to pay even when the user isn’t aware or not watching it.
Invisible pixels: Fraudsters show advertisements as an invisible pixel on the mobile screen, which is invisible to the user.

  1. Cost-Per-Click (CPC): Cost-per-click is the riskiest part of mobile advertisement where the advertiser is paying chunks of money with the hope of getting business growth, but instead receives fake clicks which eventually does not help in achieving the desired goal.

Misleading ads: Misleading ads are those which pop-up on your screen with an alert or warning and make you click on it but then it falls into some other category.

It does not even allow the customer to close the ads by clicking on the “X” sign.
Auto-redirect: Even if not clicked by the user, this type of fraud mobile advertisement maliciously redirects the user to the landing page of advertisement.

  1. Cost-Per-Impression (CPI): Cost-per-impression is when the user gets tricked to install a fake app instead of the original one. Here, the advertiser pays the publisher for as many as app installs but low quality installs or duplicate app installs ruins the productivity of any business.

Installation Fraud: As the name suggests, it is related to fake installations. An install farm used to perform install fake programs with the help of malicious software.
Click Stuffing: It is pretty much similar to cookie-stuffing or desktop traffic. After seeing an ad, clicks are not necessarily made by users. The fraudsters try and make artificially stuff clicks with the help of artificial devices or user details.
Click Spam: It is a process of executing clicks on the user’s behalf without him being aware of. If a user lands on any malicious page, the fraudster starts running clicks in the background which results in sending an impression-to-clicks that makes an impression of engagement from the user’s end.

  1. Fraudulent Traffic: It can be described as fake visits on the publisher’s website which occur without the knowledge of any user. Fake traffic is mainly generated by non-human actors such as bots, botnets, etc. It can be initiated by a person’s online actions and fully controlled by a bot that has infected a personal computer.

Bots: Bots are described as non-human or automated user-agents that helps in producing web traffic.
Wrong Targeting: It happens when a fraudster uses attractive campaigns designed to target a specific audience from a specific geographic location, but they use these ads for irrelevant networks and different locations. This results in fake data.

How to prevent Mobile Advertising Frauds?

Here are some prevention methods which marketers can use to get rid of mobile advertising frauds:

Advertisers: Advertisers should level up their knowledge about the variety of advertising frauds that are making rounds of the Internet nowadays. While working with publishers, it is really necessary for them to define their performance expectations. Identifying fraud will become easy if you loop-in C-level executives.

Networks: Marketers can get more transparency from the publishers about their traffic. It is really necessary to make a healthy relationship with your publisher. It will make easy for everyone to talk in any situation.


Mobile advertising fraud has been increasing each passing day. The application development companies also play a vital role in preventing these mobile ad frauds. The marketers, application developers, and publishers need to work together to prevent these mobile advertising frauds.

Related blog – Mobile Advertising Fraud (Part-1)

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