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Mobile Monday: Fools No More — AppsFlyer Fires Back at Fraudsters

Posted Apr 2, 2018

This Mobile Monday, we’re taking an extensive look at AppsFlyer and Protect360’s State of Mobile App Install Fraud report for Q1 2018. Yesterday may have been April Fools’ Day but their latest report takes a bold stand against fraud with data and analysis across their extensive network.

AppsFlyer as declared mobile markers should be “Fools No More.”

Breaking the Silence
As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, fraud in mobile gets a lot of attention, but very little solid data ends up being shared or collected. When it comes to anti-fraud efforts, many ad networks and mediation platforms prefer silence to showing their hand to fraudsters, but AppFlyer has shared deep insights as part of the #FoolsNoMore initiative.

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The #FoolsNoMore initiative includes a series of educational resources for marketers, including their State of Mobile Ad Fraud report.

The study cross more than a whole quarter, 6,000 apps, and ten billion installs. By any measure, this is one of the most statistically significant studies ever done on the subject of fraud.

By AppsFlyer’s estimate, in Q1 2018 the level of financial exposure to fraud grew about 30% from 2017 to $700-$800 million. This can be attributed to three increases in the many-layered trifle of app install marketing and mobile advertising in general:

  • A 15% rise in the rate of app install fraud
  • A 10% increase in the cost of media
  • A 25% rise in the share of non-organic installs in the app install marketing ecosystem

An Ever-Evolving Threat
One of the most important points AppsFlyer’s report hammers home is that fraud keeps changing and is a moving target. As those perpetuating fraud figure out anti-fraud tactics, they chance and evolved to keep defrauding advertisers, publishers, and users.

After a sizable drop last year, which AppsFlyer attributes to a sizable decrease in attempted fraud from device farms, fraudsters regrouped and slowly tested new methods of attack with some of their old tactics now countered by ad networks.

AppsFlyer’s report indicates that since the drop in September of 2017, they’ve seen an increase in the number of attempted SDK spoofs and bot attacks. That back-and-forth between attribution partners, ad networks, and the malicious actors out to defraud them led to a 12.6% increase in February. 

Fighting Fraud Together
As we discussed in our own conversation-starter on fraud, there is no silver bullet against fraud and no one way for any one part of the mobile advertising ecosystem. It takes vigilance from everyone and conversations between app publishers, attribution partners, ad networks, mediation platforms, and so on.

Fraud is increasing as the target gets larger. Protect360 is now automatically blocking more than five times the activity than half a year ago. That means the challenge is greater too. Fortunately, the industry is more aware of the problem than ever, and AppFlyer’s report gives the whole industry a greater degree of transparency than ever.

With more transparency, information, and shared techniques come better prevention across mobile and the tide will again turn against the fraudsters. For now, though, the tug-of-war continues.

Join the Conversation
What’s the most interesting fact you fraud in AppsFlyer’s latest report? Are you ready to tackle fraud on your network? Tweet us at @AdColony. For the latest AdColony mobile news and updates, follow @AdColony on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or connect on Linkedin.




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