What is ad stacking?
Ad stacking refers to a type of mobile ad fraud in which the fraudsters “stack” or hide ads beneath the primary ad that is displayed to users. The reason that fraudsters use ad stacking is that while only the top ad will be seen by the user, advertisers that have multiple ads stacked beneath will still have to pay for the fake impressions. For example, if a user clicks or views the top ad and there are other ads stacked beneath, this means that a click or impression will be reported for every ad in the stack. Ultimately, by stacking ads, fraudsters are stealing ad budgets from advertisers and increasing the ad revenue for publishers that may be involved in the scheme.
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Uses of ad stacking
Advertisers typically pay ad networks either on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) or cost-per-click (CPC) basis, depending on whether they’re paying for impressions or clicks. In either of these advertising models, fraudsters are able to steal ad budgets with ad stacking by having them pay for ads that were never actually seen or clicked on by the user. Most commonly, however, ad stacking is used when advertising is paying based on an impression-based CPM model. By layering ads on top of each other, this leads to advertisers wasting their budget, which ultimately leads to a lower ROAS on the marketing campaign.
As FraudBlocker highlights, ad stacking is typically focused on mobile ads and is much more common than you may think:
Ad stacking is one of the most common forms of ad fraud, surpassing even credit card fraud. It accounts for 20% ($66 billion) in global ad spend, affecting businesses of all sizes, from local SMBs to international enterprises (AdAge).
In order to prevent ad stacking, advertisers typically rely on third-party fraud prevention technology that uses software to automatically detect and block all forms of mobile ad fraud. For example, in the case of ad stacking, fraud prevention software can identify that multiple impressions or clicks from a single user occurred at the exact same timestamp, indicating there were multiple ads stacked on each other.
How Singular prevents ad stacking
In addition to our attribution and marketing analytics software, Singular provides advertisers with leading mobile ad fraud prevention technology that can detect and block many different forms of fraud, as described in our mobile ad fraud series:
Singular, for example, automatically offers many protections. Such tools may use signals like IP addresses, click and install pattern detection, and activity monitoring to pinpoint campaigns, partners and buying models that are driving suspicious app installs.
In addition to having the right fraud prevention tools in place, marketers should also rely on common sense and resist the temptation to sign up for deals with publishers that sound too good to be true, for example, by offering a CPM significantly below market rates. Instead, marketers should only focus their app install efforts on trusted partners that have a reputation for providing quality users. Finally, marketers should be on the lookout for signs that the quality of app installs is low, for example by looking at the retention rate of users and the uninstall rate. A high uninstall and low retention rate are signs that fraudulent activity such as ad stack is taking place behind the scenes.
In summary, by focusing on ROI analytics as a primary KPI, this ensures that app publishers are getting the true picture of the quality of their users and value of each ad network. By combining cost aggregation, attribution, and fraud prevention, Singular ensures that advertisers are getting the highest ROAS possible and that their ad budget is being spent on real users.
Ready to detect and block ad stacking fraud?
Learn how Singular’s fraud prevention technology can help!