App install fraud can cost marketers up to millions of wasted ad budget. The recent dispute between Uber and Fetch is just another string of advertisers fed up with the opaque digital media supply chain. What is certain, is that lawsuits will not bring ad fraud to an end. Success metrics for app install campaigns today are still focused on volume and less concerned with quality. Marketers can protect their media investments from app install fraud by following three best practices below.
Forget last-touch attribution and focus on the entire mobile user journey
App install campaigns should not be verified and paid based only on the last user action. This does not weed out fraud and exposes the marketers to deceptive practices like click injections. For instance, when someone downloads an app from the store, this could be generated organically or from an ad. On Android devices, tech vendors falsify install attribution with a SDK to fire a fake click from an app tracking solution before the user’s first open of the app, even if the user did not actually see an ad impression. To address this issue, certain ad servers apply a filter by timing for click and download attribution that happens milliseconds apart. This band-aid solution also rejects organic installs and does nothing to actually identify fraud installs itself.
Instead, marketers need to be able to track and have full visibility on the entire chain of human events from the ad impressions, to click and install. Consolidating these three action in an impenetrable multi-touch attribution chain is the only way to measure ad campaign effectiveness and get ahead of fraud practices in app install campaigns. To do this, marketers should partner with mobile ad servers that can unify and cross-check all these human events in a single platform for a holistic view of the user journey.
Always opt for rich media mobile creatives
Also Read: Reimagining Premium Inventory in Mobile
Insist on transparency and third-party accreditations
Finally, let’s not forget that different technology vendors have various different ways of tracking app install campaigns. A straightforward and effective way for marketers to protect their media investments is to seek out technologies with independent third-party accreditations, for example, certification by the Media Rating Council. Third-party verification of measurements means an added-layer of authentication to guarantee that the technology is actually delivering unbiased metrics.
In the grand scheme of things, the digital advertising industry still has a lot of work ahead to until the ecosystem is truly mature. The way things are operated in the industry is still lacking quality assurances and transparent ethics. The buy-side can play a role to insist on transparency and better tracking and raise the bar for the entire industry.