Mobile Ad Fraud Detection and Mobile Ad Fraud Prevention – Why Both Matter

By John Koetsier January 5, 2016

As more and more marketers focus time and resources on mobile ad fraud, it’s important to talk about the best mix of approaches to protect your business. Broadly, there are two different kinds of fraud actions marketers and their mobile advertising partners can take:

  1. Fraud Detection Approaches: Fraud detection refers to technology and approaches designed to spot fraud and fraudulent activity in your data. Detection is about doing things after the fact of fraud.
  2. Fraud Prevention Approaches: Fraud prevention refers to ways in which we stop fraud from occurring or impacting our data. Prevention is about doing things before the fact of fraud.

These two concepts entered consumer pop culture in the US over the past several months as identity theft and identity fraud companies poked fun at competitors that focused on one or another approach. Here’s an example of one such ad.

While this commercial above discounts the value of detection as part of one’s protection strategy, the reality is that both detection and prevention play a critical role in protecting an individual or a business from fraud. In the context of the app industry, both detection and prevention play critical roles in protecting your marketing investments. Let’s explore the role that each should play for you.

The Key Role of Ad Fraud Detection

App fraud can affect your business in a variety of ways:

  • It can rob your business of marketing investment
  • It reduces your revenue and ability to monetize your IP
  • It creates major inaccuracies in your data
  • It inhibits your ability to optimize based on performance

Ad fraud detection helps to mitigate some of these dangers by identifying suspect actions so that marketers see them and can follow up. By constantly examining your marketing data for anomalies, suspicious patterns, and potentially fraudulent installs, events and purchases, fraud detection helps you to identify risks to your business along with pinpointing specific results that should be questioned or disputed.

With detection, the key to being able to spot possible fraudulent activity is granular data. We learn about bad actors and fraud tactics through ad fraud detection. The challenge of fraud detection is that the advertiser learns about fraud after it has impacted your business. It’s a great discovery tool, but does nothing to protect the advertiser from fraud as it occurs.

Different advertisers have different approaches to iPhone and Android ad fraud detection. One Singular innovation, is the ability to set alerts that will notify you when data anomalies warrant your attention.

The Key Role of Ad Fraud Prevention

Enter fraud prevention. Prevention helps protect a business by blocking fraud from affecting your business, data and bottom line. Some examples of ad fraud prevention include:

  • Automatically blocking IP addresses known to be used by cloud computing services from submitting app install or purchase signals. Such IP addresses don’t represent mobile web traffic — ergo, we know signals from them are likely fraudulent.
  • Blocking fraudulent sub-publishers from claiming app installs or post-install revenue events.
  • Automatically flagging any traffic whose timing indicates click spamming or the like.

Marketers love prevention strategies because these stop fraud before it occurs. This is clearly preferable to having to demand refunds or other corrective action from partners. Prevention is thus great when a business is under assault from previously detected fraudsters and fraud methodologies/

That said, prevention is far less effective at protecting an advertiser from new, rare, or more advanced fraud tactics. That’s because prevention by definition presupposes that a platform has been set to spot and block actions. That requires foreknowledge. New types of signals and patterns are much harder to prevent from impacting an Android or iPhone app business.

A Symbiotic Relationship Between Detection and Prevention

When you get granular and examine detection and prevention as concepts, it’s easy to see why both play a role in a robust anti-fraud strategy. Prevention can provide a barrier against known fraudulent actors and approaches, while detection can help identify new risks while ensuring that you can take corrective action where necessary to ensure the veracity of your data and revenue figures. In turn, detection can spot new forms of fraud that can then be stopped with new prevention approaches, rules and tactics.

Singular’s Approach: Fraud Detection AND Prevention

Singular offers an industry-leading fraud solution that you can learn more about right here. For a capsule summary of some of the steps we take to detect and prevent fraud for our clients, read on.

Unlike some players in the attribution and analytics space, who focus on the easier and less costly detection side of anti-fraud, Singular combines detection and prevention in its antifraud offerings, with a robust emphasis on both approaches.

Singular monitors the flow of data into our platform, constantly evaluation all of the signals for signs of fraudulent activity such as illegitimate networks, IP addresses, devices, mismatches in targeting, and more.

In terms of purchase verification, Singular verifies every in-app purchase (IAP) with the appropriate app store to ensure that you recognize revenue from every reported purchase. With full uninstall insights right in the platform, Singular helps you identify sources and campaigns with suspiciously high uninstall rates. These are just a few of the ways that Singular helps protect our clients from fraud.

Singular’s New Anti-Fraud Improvements
Learn about Singular’s new Enhanced Fraud Protections. See how working with Singular can help protect and defend your business. Click for details.

Another key fraud advantage for Singular is the scale of its client footprint. Singular’s client base of many of the largest players in gaming, retail, travel, on demand services and other verticals gives us a massive data footprint to examine so that we can stay ahead of the curve and provide unprecedented levels of protections for our valued clients. With this extraordinary visibility into a large portion of the mobile app industry, Singular can detect and create prevention regimens with extraordinary speed and thoroughness as fraud approaches emerge and evolve.

Singular’s outstanding visibility into BOTH the ad performance and spend sides of the install category gives us unique advantages in detecting and protecting clients from fraud. Our fraud detection and fraud prevention technologies are a mix of the best known techniques today as well unique proprietary techniques only we can offer.

Download the Singular Fraud Index

SIngular has just released its 2017 Singular Fraud Index, which reveals the mobile industry’s Most Secure Ad Networks. The Index is the first study of its kind to examine ad fraud data collected from multiple ad fraud prevention solutions, each with its own set of proprietary detection methods. Drawing on this unique dataset, the study exposes the effectiveness of today’s most common anti-fraud mechanisms as well as the 25 ad networks driving the lowest rates of digital advertising fraud.

Get your free copy here.

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