Mobile ad fraud doubles – SDK spoofing responsible for 37% of app install fraud

Mobile advertising fraud has nearly doubled since 2017 according to new research by mobile ad firm Adjust. Based on measurements of more than 3.43 billion app installs and 350+ billion events of Q1 2018, the company sought to shed light on this ongoing problem.

SDK spoofing was responsible for 37% of all app install fraud according to the Adjust Fraud Prevention Suite. SDK spoofing tends to be one of the hardest fraud schemes to detect. This also explains why it is gaining momentum among fraudsters.

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App categories that are facing the most SDK spoofing fraud include games (29%), eCommerce (27%) and food and drink (17%) apps.

“Naturally, the fraud rates we see in active rejections only show the level of fraud prevented for advertisers who actually chose to protect themselves. Yet, the aggregate amount of preventable fraud is significantly higher. The number of unreported cases of advertisers being victims of mobile ad fraud is undoubtedly a much high number,” says Adjust’s Fraud Specialist, Andreas Naumann.

Games attracted general fraud rates of 35%, followed by eCommerce at 20%.

Interestingly, some single campaigns had up to 80% of their installs attributed to SDK spoofing resulting in a 80% loss of their budget.

Android apps are generally more affected by mobile fraud compared to iOS devices, with Adjust’s Fraud Prevention Suite rejection twice as many app installs on Android than iOS.

Another type of mobile fraud called click spam was also noted to be on the rise. Click spam refers to clicks made fraudulently for users, even though they themselves didn’t make them. This results in false engagement rates.

eCommerce was hit the hardest when it comes to click spam at 38%, followed by games (29%) and food and drink (7%).

Meanwhile, fake installs refer to fraudsters tricking attribution partners into tracking installs that didn’t really happen. Adjust estimates that from around 400 million installs in 17 days, $1.7 million were paid to fraudsters who faked installs. Gaming leads when it comes to fake installs (42%), with eCommerce (14%) ranking significantly lower.

In its report, Adjust concludes:

“It’s in the interest of the entire advertising ecosystem to go after these issues. This means that publishers, advertisers, networks and attribution services should work together to help scrub the problem out of the advertising economy.”

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