• Advertising
  • Trust and Brand Safety

Fool's Gold: Sifting Through the Data for True Value

Team InMobi
4 min read
Posted on December 16, 2019

This post comes courtesy of Amber Bagwell, Content Marketing Manager at Everflow.

With the rapid growth of mobile advertisers, fraud is increasingly draining the wallets of advertisers, publishers and everyone in between. Criminals are moving in and mimicking real performance, confusing real installs with fraudulent installs. Not only is fraud eating into an increasing share of marketer’s ad dollars, it also creates bad data, making it impossible to correctly optimize an ad campaign if you don’t take steps to protect yourself.

Let’s take a look at common types of fraud that may be painfully familiar. However, rather than being reactive, there are steps you can take to protect your advertiser, publisher and supply partners, to effectively stopping fraudsters in their tracks.

Common Fraud Type #1: Click Injection/Ad Injection

Click Injection/Ad Injection is where the affiliate injects their tracking link to fire off a tracking click right before the user completes their conversion. This lets fraudsters hijack the credit for delivering that conversion.

What can you do?

You can use reporting around the Click to Conversion Time (also known at MTTI or CTIT) to see the time in between the click and the install/conversion. If you see a large number of installs coming in either super quickly or super late, it could signal fraudulent traffic.

By regularly checking your reporting, you can catch the most common types of fraud; it is nearly impossible for a real user to click an ad, install the app and open it within 15 seconds from their initial click. Anytime you see Mean Time to Conversions under 15 seconds, it is almost always an indicator of Click Injection/Ad Injection fraud. By setting up an alert to notify you whenever there is any conversion under 15 seconds, you can stay on top of this type of activity.

Common Fraud Type #2: Click Spamming/Click Flooding

Click Spamming/Click Flooding is where the affiliate fires their click tracking link every time a user views their ad, even though the user didn’t actually click on the ad. This allows fraudsters to cover a massive group of users with their tracking link. Most mobile campaigns are set up with an attribution window for click-through conversions that give affiliates credit for driving the conversion up to seven days after the click. If they track enough users, they will start taking credit for the advertiser’s natural (organic) conversions of users that were already highly motivated and likely planning to sign up without advertising.

What can you do?

You should also scan your reports and check on any offers that are consistently seeing more than 30% of your conversions coming in less than 24 hours after the click. While this case doesn’t necessarily mean your publisher is doing or perpetuating fraud, it is still recommended that you work with your publisher to optimize those placements.

Keep in mind that while 7-Day Click Attribution is the standard, some advertisers have 30-Day click-through attribution. If the advertiser’s attribution window is longer, then you’ll see more conversions coming in after 24 hours from the initial click.

Being smart with your data

Ultimately, what it boils down to is having access to real data based on real conversions. You can use your data to set yourself (and your partners) up for success by using anti-fraud solutions that feed data into platforms that can automatically deactivate and notify regarding blocked sources. You should also implement targeting controls and proxy blocking to further guard yourself and ensure you are driving quality sources with post engagements. Any placement that doesn’t deliver a sufficient number of post engagement events can then be optimized accordingly.

Foiling the fraudster

Teamwork makes the dream work. While this is an overused platitude (don’t deny you did an eyeroll), it doesn’t change the fact that it’s true. The true value of user acquisition is the end goal. The best way to ferret out the real from the phony is easier when working hand-in-hand with your partners and attribution platform. Combining knowledge and resources to protect your digital data is a smarter practice. Work smart, together.

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