Unbotify: Standalone bot detection for apps in every vertical

Paul Müller

Apr 17, 2019

Your app must survive and thrive in a mobile ecosystem that suffers from unchecked, automated bots that harm apps on an immense scale.

Bots don’t just affect an app’s business model, they also wreck the in-app user experience. Honest gamers are beaten again and again by rampant programs that can react faster than players, beating them to the punch. Meanwhile, bots scalp exclusive offers, and tickets to big events before a fan or buyer can access the app in question. And on dating apps, fake profiles turn off users before they can make a real match.

Fraudulent bots are becoming a bigger issue for global companies. James Hilton, Global CEO at M&C Saatchi Performance, brought the topic up at this year’s MWC, observing that hackers “use devious ways to keep pushing and maximizing revenue” through bots and “by spotting them through AI we can be a step ahead”.

Unbotify is a single, powerful answer to the bot problem threatening your app. Unbotify is a bespoke, individually-tailored solution that uses machine learning to build models of authentic behavior based on sensor data from human-device interaction. By learning the natural flow of a user in your app, the tool distinguishes the patterns and behavior that distinguishes humans from bots, cutting out the machines from the equation. Once post-install bot activities have been detected, you can stop them on your own terms. This results in saved budgets, while making the app in question much more user-friendly.

Bot fraud is the next battlefield that app marketers must face, so it pays to prepare now rather than pay the price later.

The bot fraud problem defined

Unbotify’s research estimates that some of today’s most prominent mobile apps lose around 10% of revenue to bot fraud, though that figure will grow alongside the global App Economy, which is predicted to surpass $120 billion by the end of 2019. More apps and more revenue means more targets for bots to attack. Do the math, and bots represent a serious threat to the success of your app. The real-life examples below show how bot fraud can take a vertical apart while ruining an app for its users.

Gaming

Gaming has an infamous cheating problem, no matter the platform. In a single survey, 23% of respondents admitted to cheating in an online game. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds — the popular battle royale shooter — banned “over 1,044,000 PUBG cheaters in January alone.” Game developers from AAA and indie studios have to deal with the same bot trouble which scales with popularity, diverting key resources away from improving a game in order to curb bad behavior. At critical moments in growth, bots could be the make-or-break factor that prevents developers from maintaining momentum with a frequent update schedule by battling bots instead.

When it comes to a bot’s activity pattern in-game, attackers reverse engineer game mechanics to build bots that emulate real user behavior. These in-game bots automate gameplay in a handful of ways:

  • Resource farming, to gain more credit without manually grinding for it. This gives players a bigger share of resources, making them more powerful than other players while reducing the amount of in-app purchases made.
  • Automated PvP: In player vs. player (PvP) battles, bots react much faster than the average gamer. Bots can build fortresses, auto-lock-on to their foes while building up XP and dominating leaderboards without having to lift a finger.

Both methods reduce the fun of competition, frustrate players who feel defeated unfairly, and lead to churn. They also form a large part of the in-app fraud economy, bypassing typical revenue events to steal from the apps themselves. This costs you, and the Gaming industry as a whole, wrecking reputations of apps overnight.

E-commerce

E-commerce platforms cost users and money on multiple fronts. Currently, 22% of E-commerce traffic can be attributed to ‘bad bots,’ which hack into user accounts using huge lists of stolen credentials to steal financial information, or make unwanted purchases. Bots also register fake accounts to abuse bonus or coupon promotions — or to later use as a platform for other kinds of fraud.

Fintech

An automated attack on banks and financial institutions can expose sensitive information that could have dire consequences for the bank, the user and the economy as a whole. Bots frequently attack login portals, discovering user credentials which are sold to other bad actors, who steal from those accounts, or make purchases. There were approximately 3.2 billion malicious logins per month in 2018, which amounts to severe fraud losses for banks and other services, and the attacks will only continue to grow if success is made easy.

Get reliable bot detection with Unbotify

From the very beginning, Adjust’s goal was to raise awareness with marketing managers on the dangers of mobile ad fraud. Datasets filled with fraud have a significant influence on how marketers spend their budgets, influencing decisions on a massive scale. Fraud prevention that saved budgets was the first frontier of app protection. However, we quickly realized that mobile advertising fraud was only the tip of the iceberg.

In January, we acquired Unbotify. With them, we further expand our fraud technology to root out threats that occur after the install.

Yaron Oliker, Co-Founder and CEO at Unbotify, says that “in-app bot fraud isn’t just a monetary issue — it has knock-on effects on user experience, retention, in-app analytics, and breaches that compromise users’ data and scar a brand’s reputation. Our AI and machine-learning technology detects bots in real-time and offers the best possible insurance to protect the user experience.”

Unbotify is a standalone product which can be implemented alongside Adjust’s (or other vendors’) attribution service. This means that companies who are affected by bot-fraud do not need to be customers of Adjust to use Unbotify, though the two work in tandem, taking on fraud that affects apps both before and after the install.

To find out more about the problem and solution, or if you’d like a demo, please reach out and contact Adjust here. If you want to learn more about fraud, please click here to download our newly updated Expert’s Guide to Ad Fraud.

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