India’s mobile ad spend is predicted to have double-digit growth over the next few years, meaning mobile will account for just under 62 per cent of digital ad spending’s $2.80 billion in 2021.
This scenario provides opportunities for not only marketers, but also fraudsters. With one of the highest ad fraud rates globally – fraudulent click rate stands at 32 per cent compared to the global average figure of 15 per cent – India’s mobile market growth figures lose their shine when the reality of wasted ad investments is factored in
Ad fraud takes many forms and involves fooling advertisers into paying for placements fuelled by fake traffic, fake leads and misrepresentation. The challenge with curbing this lies in that it is not only easy to execute but also an extremely lucrative operation that is highly scalable. Fraudsters are adopting increasingly sophisticated tactics to secure a portion of ad revenue and prominent ad fraud methods in India include Install Hijacking and the more recent DeviceID Reset Fraud.
Install Hijacking uses mobile malware to send fraudulent click reports during the install process. The malware is often hidden in apps that otherwise appear legitimate as well as apps downloaded via third-party app stores.
DeviceID Reset Fraud is applied to advertisers that pay ad networks whenever an installation is made. Since payments are typically based on a “last-click” attribution basis, fraudsters are able to continually rip off profits by resetting their DeviceIDs
between every installation and planting fake activity logs on every “new” DeviceID.
Almost all businesses in today’s highly-visible markets are setting aside huge ad budgets to keep their products in the spotlight. More informed businesses are investing into quantifying technologies to ensure their ad-dollars are bringing real value to the businesses, and not just positive figures on paper.
While combating ad fraud is a constant ceaseless battle, here are two key pointers to help ensure that your dollars count.
1. Invest in analytical technologies
Publishers prioritise achieving a certain level of trust in their inventories through frequent monitoring of their sourced traffic. With today’s dynamic technologies, they can enjoy the best of both worlds. An increasingly recommended approach would involve adopting third-party analytical tools that integrate viewability, engagement and bot detection solutions. Besides the ability to block known frauds, such tools can detect other potential frauds. Given the importance of Big Data in fraud protection, it is an advantage to gather more data for more insights. The ultimate goal is to create higher value from higher “real” impression rates, and to eventually increase the value of your media and your business.
2. Fight ad fraud with regulators
In an advertising climate where ad inventories are growing exponentially, regulatory authorities must act fast in advocating a laser-focus on attribution models and help steer businesses towards more value-based metrics such as sales, conversion rates and leads, over volume-based metrics such as clicks and video views.
Spending more money on fighting ad fraud as opposed to pushing placements may seem like a pointless venture that hurts a business’ bottom line now. However, as more companies work together with regulators while expanding their ad inventories, it is not difficult to guess where advertisers will buy their media from in the coming months.
Anti-fraud programs will go a long way in standardising the industry and creating a universal benchmark. A digital environment where validated publishers and informed advertisers can trust each other is certainly a much harder environment for fraudsters to navigate.
(The author is the country head, India for AppsFlyer)