How to Combat Mobile Ad Fraud So You Don’t Pay for False Clicks

Many people don’t even know that mobile ad fraud is a thing, but it’s actually something that is a massive problem, and may be affecting you already.

What is Mobile Ad Fraud?

There are several types of mobile ad fraud, but they all involve the practice of deceiving businesses, publishers, and/or supply partners to manipulate clicks and submissions to drive up the cost of advertising for that business for nefarious reasons.

A shocking 90% of campaigns are affected or by mobile ad fraud, and in 2018 alone, these fraudulent practices cost the global mobile industry around 5 billion dollars. For such a costly issue, this problem often goes relatively unnoticed until it is too late, so let’s explore some of the forms of mobile ad fraud and the ways in which your organization can avoid them.

Computer fighting searching ad traffic

Understand the Different Types of Ad Fraud

You can’t stop mobile ad fraud until you know what it is and how it may be used on your ads. There are a number of ways in which fraudsters can victimize businesses:

  • Invalid Traffic: This is any fraudulent traffic, as in, it’s not coming from real users. There are two types of non-human traffic, General IVT, which are “innocent” bots like Google’s, and Sophisticated IVT, which are designed to mimic real human interaction to, in most cases, carry out fraudulent activity. This can even be by particularly petty competitors who want you to spend all your advertising budget quickly.
  • Click Injection: This is a big problem for campaigns that are measured through last-click attribution, because the fraudster can step in at that last step and insert themselves, taking credit for that action.
  • Click Spamming: This is also known as click flooding or organic poaching. This is where fraudsters send fake reports in the hope that they’ll get through as legitimate, like a DOS attack.
  • App and Domain Spoofing: This is a more obvious form of fraud, in which someone essentially pretends to be a publisher of note (like Buzzfeed) to take advertising money from companies who want to advertise on the site.
  • Ad Stacking: This is where they layer “fake” ads on top of one another so the legitimate ad isn’t visible anymore. Then, the publisher asks for money for the ad, because it’s on the site, even though it’s not doing the advertiser any good.

Go on the Offensive and Stop Mobile Ad Fraud Before it Happens

Fortunately, once you’re aware it happens, there’s plenty you can do to defend against it. There are some great tools available to help you prevent mobile ad fraud from happening, such as DoubleVerify and Moat. Sites like these provide insight on your company’s advert spending and trends, so you can spot unusual changes quickly.

You can also find tools and businesses for outsourcing this protection so you don’t have to think about it. Do some research to find partners to help protect you against the forms of fraud to which you are most vulnerable.

It is also important to be sure that any businesses you choose to partner with are trustworthy and have a good reputation in their field. The ad verification tools mentioned above will help you to tell the difference between a trustworthy third-party publisher or provider from a scammer who will try to take your organization’s money by any means possible. 

Person on computer fighting ad fraud

Follow Your Instincts

If you see an ad that feels too good to be true, or see a sudden change in your analytics, be skeptical. You’ll likely know if things have moved in a positive direction or not. If you’re suddenly getting a ton of clicks but no more buyers, or if you’re getting demands for payment for no proof of results, your gut will tell you something’s wrong.

Set Up a Checklist for New Partners

If a large part of your marketing strategy is advertising on publisher websites, develop an internal checklist you can run through before you go ahead and advertise with them. This should include big names as that’s exactly where fraudsters will try to step in and pressure you into not making a fuss.

Control Your Ad Spend

This is important whether you’re an individual doing affiliate marketing, or an organization with a large marketing department – make sure you have fail-safes to control your advertising budget. This could be limiting the funds certain departments or members of staff have access to without permission from someone else in the company, or simply keeping your daily ad budget tight rather than trying to scale quickly. The more you know about where your money is going and what ROI it’s getting, the better.

As an expensive, complex, and ever-changing problem, mobile ad fraud is an issue that is often only solved through constant vigilance with software and manual practices. Mobile ad fraud, if carried out effectively, can have devastating effects on a company, so think about how you can defend yourself against it before it becomes a problem.