Why some ad networks are taking ad fraud way more seriously

By John Koetsier November 30, 2017

At a private event hosted by Singular earlier this month, mobile marketing leaders from Airbnb, Instacart, Sephora and more discussed recent trends in mobile ad fraud prevention. Among the most talked-about subjects was the growing threat of attribution manipulation and how it is pushing some ad networks to step up their efforts in the fight against mobile ad fraud.

Today the majority of mobile ad fraud is perpetrated via attribution manipulation, whereby fraudsters steal credit for installs from organic and paid channels. Each month, attribution manipulation attacks account for roughly 70 percent of prevented ad fraud, according to recent data released by Singular.

“When installs are stolen from legitimate sources, ad networks become the victims of theft too,” said Yevgeny Peres, VP of Growth at IronSource. Payments that should have gone to ad networks for legitimate installs get diverted to fraudulent sources, costing the ad networks money and corrupting marketers’ performance data in the process.

As ad networks have seen attribution manipulation affect their bottom line, their incentive to fight fraud has become more closely aligned with that of marketers.

Fraudsters also steal credit from organic sources, causing advertisers to pay fraudulent sources for organic traffic. “When the KPIs of users attributed to a certain publisher are similar to the KPIs of your organic traffic, it’s usually too good to be true, and a sign that the publisher is stealing credit from your organic sources,” Peres said.

“It’s very hard for marketers to identify the channels that are actually controlling the full funnel of ad serving, as the right due diligence on each partner just isn’t out there,” Peres added. Singular’s Fraud Index — which was presented at the event — aims to add some transparency to the mobile fraud landscape by highlighting the 20 mobile ad networks driving the lowest rates of ad fraud.

Peres was joined on stage by UA leaders from Postmates and N3TWORK who discussed the challenges faced by mobile marketers in preventing mobile ad fraud.

Patrick Witham, who leads user acquisition at Postmates, spoke about the importance of developing a strong relationship with ad networks and including clauses in ad partner agreements that make it easier to process refunds for fraud. “In many cases, the ease with which you can recoup money for fraudulent installs really comes down to your relationship with the network,” Witham said.

Nebojsa Radovic, Director of Performance Marketing at N3TWORK, pointed out some tell-tale signs that a network might drive fraudulent activity. “When someone reaches out saying they can drive you 30 cent installs, you usually know something is off,” he said. “Often these networks have no idea where their traffic is actually coming from.”

At the event, Singular announced an enhanced version of its Fraud Prevention Suite aimed at helping resource-constrained marketing teams block fraud in real-time, before it can wreak havoc on their budgets and analytics. Singular’s fraud prevention suite utilizes all known prevention methods to ensure maximum protection against existing fraud threats as well as unknown threats to come.

“Time is the biggest problem,” Radovic added. “Most marketing teams just don’t have the resources to figure out what’s real and what is fraud.” With Singular’s enhanced Fraud Prevention Suite, now available to all Singular customers, Singular is hard at work solving this problem.


Download The Singular Fraud Index to see The Industry’s Most Active Fraud Prevention Methods & The 20 Most Secure Mobile Ad Networks

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