New Data From Adjust Shows a Rise in Ad Fraud Across all Verticals, With Fraudsters Increasing Faking Organic Metrics

Fraudulent activity in gaming increased by 172.95% between August 2019 and 2020, with the US seeing a surge of 310.29% in the same timeframe

Newly released data from app marketing platform Adjust, indicates mobile ad fraud is not only rising, but that failing to stop it can distort critical marketing data used for business decisions.

The research found that fraudsters are not only faking paid installs, but also organic traffic — installs that cannot be attributed to any marketing activities — in order to hide the paid installs they steal. Out of 200 million rejected installs, two thirds of these were organic and only one third paid installs. While mobile marketers are not technically losing money, these fake organic installs can compromise the data integrity and insights marketers are supposed to gain from their marketing activities. They run a high risk of “flying blind” in a situation where fraudulent activity is rampant and a marketer’s data is corrupted, including the data on organics.

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When looking at the gaming vertical specifically, our data also shows that globally, fraud rates increased by 172.95% between August 2019 and 2020. In EMEA this went up by 181.20%, in the US by 310.29%, and APAC by 214.86%.

“It is absolutely vital that marketers can trust their data,” says Andreas Naumann, Director of Fraud Prevention at Adjust. “Without having a clear view, it is simply impossible to make strategic, data-driven decisions. Ultimately, fraud is and will remain to be a challenge we see in the industry, however by implementing the right tools, we will be able to stay one step ahead of the fraudsters and ensure transparency remains a top priority.”

Ad fraud is a global problem, and fraudsters are active across all markets. We wanted to uncover which fraudulent method was most widely used in the mobile ad ecosystem, and our data revealed that fake users/bots continue to dominate as the most prevalent fraud type with the US seeing the method make up for 68.7% of its fraudulent activity, China 65.6%, Japan 60.7% and EMEA 47%.

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In LATAM, SDK Spoofing still dominates (51.16%). It is, therefore, crucial that marketers implement solutions such as the free-to-use SDK Signature which combats this fraud scheme. In markets with wider SDK Signature adoption, we see that fraudsters have to resort to alternative schemes which makes their jobs harder and less lucrative which means these apps are less likely to have ad budget stolen. This does not mean that the risk of SDK-Spoofing is lower in other regions. Risks associated with companies not using the SDK signature to protect themselves is as high or even higher, no matter which market they are in. Adjust’s data also revealed that SDK Spoofing was most prevalent in Food & Drink and Business apps, 59.7% and 34.9% respectively.

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