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How to Combat Click Fraud in Mobile Advertising

Aug 18, 2021

By Gavin Kim

Mobile advertising reaches more customers on their smartphones and tablets than ever before. Click fraud is a global challenge that bogs down the mobile advertising ecosystem and leads to wasted budget, annoyed consumers and unpredictable results. By unifying the way that mobile ads are targeted, served and measured, brands can ensure that they are minimizing the risk of wasted time and resources. 

Ad fraud is estimated to have cost advertisers more than $35 billion in 2020 and is forecasted to rise to $44 billion by 2022. But while industry-wide efforts to combat click fraud are beginning to take shape, efforts such as eliminating cookies, tighter data tracking requirements and native advertising are proving to be lagging behind the bot farms that are relentlessly driving fraudulent traffic. 

It’s time to find a better method to combat click fraud. Unified advertising platforms can deliver targeted inventory to verified profiles without the risk of artificially inflated numbers. 

Who benefits from click fraud

The sole purpose of click fraud is to disrupt the accurate measurement of an application or website’s traffic. This could be in order to sell more ads, drive more app installs or directly generate revenue based on website traffic. Generally speaking, there are two types of click fraud: fake traffic and fake clicks. 

While massive bot networks of mobile devices can disrupt the marketplace through automated downloads and opens of apps, those same networks can also drive scripted webpage loads in the background. In both instances, this bot on bot violence is intended to deceive the advertising algorithms that set bid prices and enable brands to optimize their campaigns. 

We see a lot of times that the end goal is to inflate a website’s traffic so that it can charge a premium through automated ad placement networks such as Google Ad Words and others. This leads to low-quality content that is flooded with ads that are not targeted and cost the brand more than it should to reach important audiences. 

While the revenue chain of click fraud can be hard to follow, app developers, content publishers and advertisers all suffer. 

Combatting click fraud one platform at a time 

For mobile platforms, click fraud is primarily focused on low-quality applications that harbor exploits through integrated software development kits (SDKs). When the SDK is malicious, it is incentivized to generate dollars to the app. The more traffic it generates, the more the application’s developer can charge advertisers. 

The SDK essentially means that the host application is making a choice to work with an ad network to drive revenue. They’re offering the service for free but supplementing with advertising and giving the traffic to who will pay the most. But when top-tier application or content publishers make content available, they are usually bringing top-tier traffic and users with them. Mobile application marketplaces should have controls integrated into the usage and download data to identify large botnets that are driving fake traffic and usage. 

This is where DigitalReef comes in. By unifying the entire mobile advertising platform from audience segmentation to media planning, you can make your advertising strategy virtually click fraud free. 

How DigitalReef combats click fraud

At the carrier level, DigitalReef is collecting data that ensures we can verify the profile of each mobile user and that the telemetry data we collect is tied to a real user. DigitalReef also uses an SDK that works within our ad network, which means it is the exclusive provider of DigitalReef content through that SDK. And, DigitalReef has the sole exclusive right to deliver content to the end user, which means that real people are seeing your ads in a way that is relevant and adds value. 

Advertisers can have faith that traffic from ads on the DigitalReef network are from known accounts that have a relationship with an operator. By controlling the entire value chain, DigitalReef can make the determination that the audience network is genuine. 

This also means that the audience profiles you want to reach are accurate as well. We are pre-designating an audience that we know is part of a carrier’s user network because they are tied to individual mobile accounts. The data that DigitalReef builds its audience profiles on is based on accurate geolocation, app usage and other information available through the provisions DigitalReef has with the carrier or operating system manufacturer.  

Having visibility of where your ads are appearing, who is seeing them, where they’re seeing them and if they’re actually being shown means that your advertising can be virtually click fraud free. 

At DigitalReef, we control the inventory end-to-end. This means we sell our own inventory, display our own inventory and maintain our own inventory. In short – if you’re ready to eliminate the presence of click fraud in your advertising programs, it’s time to take ownership of your platform. 

About Gavin Kim

Gavin oversees the integration of all products and services at DigtalReef.