Glossary
Mobile App Terminology

Click Fraud


What is click fraud?

There are many types of ad fraud that impact advertisers, although click fraud is one of the most common. Click fraud refers to a type of digital fraud in which bots pretend to be real people and repeatedly click on ads. In some cases with poor attribution technology, they can then seem to be the click that resulted in an app install, a site visit, or a marketing conversion.

Click fraud has long been a problem online. With online pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, website owners are paid based on how many users click on the ads on their site. By using bots to impersonate real user activity and click on ads, the malicious actors are able to both waste advertisers’ PPC budget and also generate revenue for website owners. Since these clicks are carried out by bots, click fraud typically occurs on a large scale and each ad is repeatedly clicked in an automated process.

Click fraud is also a problem for mobile app marketers, because fraudsters hope that click spamming can lead to view-through attributions or last-click attributions. Fortunately, Singular has industry-leading fraud prevention tools.

Use cases and examples of click fraud

In mobile marketing, click fraud can be used in multiple ways. One is click injection, where fraudsters detect a real app install and inject a fake click to try to steal attribution credit for it. Fraudsters may also flood ad networks and attribution providers with clicks, hoping to just get lucky and inappropriately capture credit.

Often they do this by monitoring activity on an Android phone via an innocuous app — like a flashlight app or other basic utility.

Singular monitors and prevents all these attacks.

In PPC advertising, both advertisers and publishers can be impacted by click fraud. Investopedia highlights two primary reasons in which click fraud is carried out: to reduce competition from other advertisers or to artificially boost ad revenue from fake clicks.

Reducing competition with click fraud

One common application of click fraud is attempting to steal another advertisers PPC budget and ultimately reduce competition. For example, a click fraud bot may repeatedly click on another advertisers ad and spend their entire daily budget, leaving other advertisers with less competition.

Another example of click fraud for reducing competition is the bot repeatedly clicking on a publisher ads, making it look like the publisher is trying to boost their own revenue. This behaviour may lead the ad network to cut off their relationship with the publisher as they believe the publisher is attempting to generate revenue with click fraud. Ultimately, this would leave other publishers with less competition and more ad revenue available for other sites.

Generating revenue with click fraud

Another common use case of click fraud is for publishers to use bots to click on ads on their own site in an attempt to increase ad revenue. In this case, website owners are trying to make it seem like real users are clicking through the ads on their site as each click would generate the site a small amount of revenue.

Both of these examples of click fraud can be notoriously difficult to detect, although both ad networks and third-party fraud prevention providers like Singular have built cutting-edge technology to identify and remove click fraud.

How Singular fights click fraud for advertisers

As the examples above highlight, fraud prevention is a necessity for advertisers that want to ensure their budget is going towards real users. To solve this, Singular’s mobile ad fraud detection and prevention solution is built by a team of cybersecurity scientists that employ the latest prevention techniques to block fraudulent activity and prevent click fraud. In particular, the solution takes a proactive approach to blocking click fraud as it occurs. 

Since preventing click fraud is such a key part of ensuring advertisers’s success, we have also included this tool at no extra cost, as highlighted in our guide on the Fraud Prevention Suite:

While most attribution providers are treating fraud prevention as a luxury, charging exorbitant fees to “add on” prevention technology, Singular believes it is a necessity and should be included as part of our core attribution solution. Additionally, while many providers offer comprehensive insights into the fraud that is taking place, these insights are not necessarily actionable or proactive.

The fraud prevention technology developed by Singular automatically applies deterministic rules to block installs and fake clicks in real-time. By using a deterministic approach, the system doesn’t rely on guesswork like other probabilistic methods do. In addition to preventing wasted ad spend, this also means that click fraud stopped before it has been attributed in their  reporting. Ultimately, by combining fraud prevention with mobile attribution, Singular gives advertisers peace of mind and assurance that their advertising budget is spent on real users and provides the highest possible return on ad spend (ROAS).

 

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