Advertising fraud has always been a major issue in digital marketing, but it was more common for desktop campaigns than for mobile. That is now changing. As much as one-third of all programmatic mobile advertising could be fraudulent says a new study by Applist and Forensiq. And of that third a third again is considered at high risk of being fraudulent.
With campaign dollars likely to shift to mobile rapidly in the coming year the findings are a timely wake-up call.
The study and subsequent report called Fighting Mobile Fraud Programmatic Era monitored more than 60 million impressions across AppLift’s RTB platform, DataLift, to collect insights on suspected fraudulent traffic.
The authors note, “Overall, 34 per cent of the traffic we monitored presented a risk of fraud. AppLift’s fraud detection system also distinguished between two types of likely fraud: suspected fraud, and high risk of fraud. We found 22 per cent of overall traffic to be suspect, and 12 per cent to be at high risk of fraud.”
The study also examined two types of fraud. Technical Fraud is committed when technology is used to “game” the ad tech system whereas compliance fraud involves “deceitful tactics that do not directly require any specific kind of technology but aim to exploit platform vulnerabilities.”
Among the other findings;
- There is no significant difference in fraud levels between iOS and Android
- Traffic from campaigns run on a CPC basis is three times less likely to be fraudulent than for CPM campaigns
- Traffic from campaigns run on a cost per interstitial (CPI) basis is 10 times less likely to be fraudulent than for CPM campaigns.
- The relative amount of fraud increases during night hours as many fraud tactics are not sophisticated enough to take into account actual levels of app usage.
The researchers say the level of fraud is highly contigent upon on the type of campaign.
“Relatively, CPC campaigns present the possibility of three times less fraud as CPM campaigns. For CPI campaigns, the fraud levels are 10 times inferior to CPM campaigns. This is due to the fact that performance campaigns are much more tightly targeted and go through a much greater deal of optimization than CPM and display campaigns, therefore reducing the likelihood of receiving impressions from fraudulent publishers.”
According to an Applift blog, the goal of the study was to raise awareness about the issue, demonstrate how advertisers and their partners can fight back.
“The mobile advertising world shifting towards programmatic buying, we also decided to look into RTB fraud specifically, and conducted tests on our programmatic media buying platform DataLift.”
“We monitored over 60 million impressions over the course of four weeks to assess which proportion of the traffic received was at risk of fraud, along with other granular insights. The tests were powered by our own internal fraud detection tool, as well as by leading fraud prevention tool Forensiq.”