The Struggle with Fake Apps and Ad Fraud

As per data released by TUNE, a mobile measurement company, mobile advertising click fraud in India is 2.4 times higher than global averages, and mobile app install fraud is 1.7 times higher.

For a country looking to expand its digital ecosystem, app install and ad fraud is a significant problem. Annually, Indian marketers lose $350 million to fraudsters.

Internet Companies are Struggling

Internet companies consider organic growth, traffic provided by ad networks, and partnerships with companies to grow traffic. With fraudulent ad networks, companies are paying for fake traffic, the kind that doesn’t contribute to growth. Fraudulent ad networks may also claim to have generated clicks or installations that are, in actuality, organic, leading to companies paying ad networks for organic, loyal customers.

PayTM, India’s biggest mobile payments company, for instance, revealed that 20% of their app downloads are fake. This means that users are installing and deleting their app without significantly interacting with it. These are users that PayTM has paid to acquire, and is resulting in no engagement or growth.

Some of the most prevalent forms of frauds are listed below:-

1. Click Fraud: Ad Networks generate fake clicks, while the consumer has not clicked or seen the advertisement.
2. Attribution Fraud: Ad Networks claim credit for app installations that have occurred organically.
3. Device Fraud: Apps are installed multiple times from the same device.
4. Incentive Fraud: Consumers are given incentives such as freebies upon installation of certain apps. This leads to installation for small amounts of time, resulting in little to no engagement.
5. IP Fraud: Clicks and installations originate from blacklisted or fake IP addresses.

It is important to note that while the money made per click is higher in countries globally as compared to India, the volume of installations or clicks is far greater, making India an attractive market for fraudsters.

What can Marketers and Internet Companies Do?

To counter this, marketers can opt to focus more on metrics such as end sales, sign-ups, forms of long term engagement, etc, rather than metrics such as clicks, installations, views, etc which are far easier to fake. Other measures include paying close attention to the install logs reports, and taking control over attribution methods. For instance, OLX, a prevalent online market space, built in rules pertaining to mean time to install, duplicate IPs, gross clicks, app versions, etc, and witnessed an increase in organic traffic in doing so.

In general, it might be beneficial to shift the focus from the number of clicks and installations to the level of engagement that is created and maintained with the end users.

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