While consumer time spent in app keeps rising, some advertisers are still hesitant to devote a significant share of their ad budgets to in-app channels. There are a few reasons why this is the case, but high on the worry list is fraud. Too many advertisers today are worried that their in-app ad budgets will be eaten up by fraud and won’t help their marketing and business goals.
But are these fears unfounded? Advertisers and agencies worry about fraud in in-app advertising, but much of it is down to perceptions that have not kept pace with reality. While fraud may have been a major problem once upon a time, it is not a major concern anymore with in-app advertising.
According to the latest reporting from DoubleVerify in their Global Insights Report 2020, fraud rate for mobile apps declined by nearly one-third in just the last one year, decreasing from 2.8% in 2018-2019 to 1.9% in 2019-2020. Even in comparison to other channels, in-app fraud rates have fare relatively well. DoubleVerify estimates that fraud rate on in-app is 42% lower than the fraud rate on desktop. According to another 2019 study, in-app has 25% less fraud than mobile web.
Why does in-app advertising then have this unfounded reputation to begin with? Back in the very early days of programmatic in-app advertising, fraud in in-app advertising rose because of two reasons.
For one, in-app ads commanded higher per-impression costs because of the enhanced targeting and creative capabilities for advertisers compared to other digital channels (in particular desktop and mobile web). As a result, fraudsters had a higher payoff when they got away with their fraud attempts. In addition, back when in-app was an emerging channel, it did not have sophisticated quality controls to catch fraud.
As the in-app advertising matured, ecosystem players have put in substantial preventive measures to catch and block fraud attempts at every step of the impression lifecycle. Even the most complex in-app ad fraud attempts have been uncovered with the help of sophisticated solutions. And yet, advertisers continue to hold back their in-app investments because of their perception that in-app advertising is more prone to fraud
While in-app ad fraud is far less of an issue now than it was a few years ago, that doesn’t mean it has gone away entirely. After all, credit cards have been around for decades now but credit card fraud still exists – and it’s unlikely that either forms of fraud will ever disappear entirely, unfortunately.
In-app fraud can be categorized into three main categories:
Within these, bot fraud is more prevalent on desktop, mobile web and the recently introduced CTV/OTT (connected TV/streaming video) environments. It is difficult for such fraud to be perpetrated in closed app environments, and most supply side partners deploy solutions to counter them.
While mobile app fraud rates have declined about 32% year-over-year, they are still roughly twice as high as mobile web fraud rates, according to this 2020 report from DoubleVerify, and warrants for advertisers’ attention and a robust supply-side platform (SSP) selection process.
We strongly recommend advertisers to look for the following things in their supply-side platform partners to make sure they are buying fraud free supply:
Fraud in in-app advertising is not nearly as big of a problem as it was a few years ago, but that doesn’t mean that it can be ignored. Still, by working with the right partners that are committed to stamping out ad fraud and promoting transparency, advertisers can be sure their in-app ad budgets are yielding the best results for them.
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