Fraud in mobile app marketing is a serious thing. If you’re not smart about fraud prevention you could be throwing a lot of your advertising and marketing budget to fraudulent or non-human traffic. Whilst it is sometimes unavoidable, there is a lot out there that can prevent fraud being an issue for your business.

In this article we take a look at the services available to detect and protect against fraud in mobile app marketing. A lot of studies suggest that in-app ad fraud could cost marketers nearly $1 billion in 2015, so it’s no matter to joke about.

The Dangers of Fraud in Mobile App Marketingfraud-mobile-app-marketing-300x241-300x241

A lot of mobile devices are being “hijacked” and are used to show ads and act as humanly as possible to various ad networks. The way smartphones are being hijacked is in a similar fashion to PC hijacking, and we’re starting to see mobile based botnets being used for large scale fraud.

A lot of the cause for fraud in mobile app marketing comes down to “hijacked mobile applications” – these are apps that have either been purposely built by the developer to have such fraudulent features installed or they are apps that have been tampered with by a third party source.

Not only do these apps run adverts consistently on a user’s device, but they usually are running constantly in the background, eating down battery life and sometimes even eating into a user’s data usage.

How to Detect and Protect Against Fraud in Mobile App Marketinggrey-areas-in-mobile-marketing

It’s hard to detect fraud in mobile app marketing without having a large set of tools at your disposal. Mobile advertising platforms are in the position to detect fraud and as a result you should consider finding a platform that takes fraud detection and prevention seriously.

Typically, an application that has various unnecessary app permissions has the potential to be an infected and fraudulent application. Permissions such as being able to prevent the device from sleeping, running at start-up, modifying and deleting content on the SD card are all examples of permissions that can be used for fraudulent behaviour.

These kinds of permissions can be looked at by advertising platforms and they’re a good basis for creating prevention tools. Right now, a stellar example of a platform fighting against fraud is Kochava. This company has a new set of tools in place to prevent fraud and it’s something that more platforms should start to offer. In the near future, fraud prevention tools should bear strong weight on what ad platform you choose to use.

Weever Media is also another platform that now offers protection against mobile ad fraud. Fraudulent activity is always going to be an issue in any avenues of business and it’s unfortunately something that the mobile marketing industry is going to need to work on.

To save yourself from losing out on revenue, you should ensure that the platform you use has some form of fraud prevention in place. You should also re-evaluate your own application’s security and ensure that you try your best to minimize app permissions to reduce the chance of your application becoming infected.

Going forward, it’s going to be a constant, uphill battle against fraudulent behaviour in the mobile marketing industry but it’s definitely something that can be worked through. As you can see from the two examples above, more ad platforms are catching on to fraud and they’re actively working to rule it out.

What else can happen but click fraud

A major issue is the difference in app install tracking between iTunes and the tracking tools providers, which can result in sometimes huge differences in numbers. This obviously can lead to discrepancies and misunderstandings between clients and partners. There’s a lot of opinions about this topic but iTunes is measuring downloads and on the other hand tracking tools installs (there can be multiple installs per download).

We identified the tool Adjust as being problematic in this matter, since other tools (for instance MAT) utilising a technical alignment to iTunes, so that the differences cannot get that high. We recommend to check both iTunes account and tracking tool on a regular basis.