App Marketing

What three expert marketers think about mobile ad fraud

James Haslam
Content Manager
Topics

Mobile ad fraud is becoming one of the most prevalent topics in the industry, and as we continue to fight app fraud, we listen to our clients to help discover how it’s really harming their campaigns.

Opinions matter, but a boots-on-the-ground approach results in a better understanding of perspective, and shows that we’re not working in the shadows, without taking what our clients say to heart. We take a proactive approach in as many ways we can - CAAF is just one example.

Another example of this is at every Mobile Spree conference to date. On the day, we interview our speakers to get insights into their day-to-day, and about how they make the most of Adjust as their attribution provider of choice. When it comes to app fraud, we always ask something like, “How would you describe fraud from your perspective?” Below, we’ve sampled three answers from our most recent events, to give you an introduction into how UA managers think about fraud. Scroll on for more.

Jonathan Winters, Miniclip

Jonathan Winters, Head of User Acquisition at Miniclip, joined us for our “Marketing Reality vs. BS” panel at Mobile Spree 2018 Berlin (and you can watch a full recap of it here.) There, he talked about taking a more holistic view when it comes to the blame game of mobile ad fraud. In our interview, he provided an overview of what it’s like to be a modern UA manager, and where to put your time and energy when it comes to fighting fraud.

Transcript

“So I view fraud from two perspectives. One thing [is] that you have very, very big challenges when it comes to identifying legit UA partners out there because bad actors follow the money, and they found that in UA (especially in gaming) there's a lot of money going around. Therefore, it's very attractive for those fraudsters to come in and develop sophisticated fraud schemes to trick the system and gain access to that valuable investment from these advertisers.”

“One of the big challenges is actually to keep up with those developments because we need to face the fact that those fraudsters may have access to technology or intelligence that allows them to stay ahead of the curve, and [there is] this typical cat-and-mouse game here.”

“One thing as a UA manager you have to think about as well is the resourcing part. So you know you have these bad actors, and you have to sort of chase them with the help of MMPs like Adjust, but you also need to invest a lot of work and time yourself or with your own team in-house to make sure you identify the fraudulent traffic.”

“And that's a huge investment, actually, sometimes because you actually want to run marketing campaigns. That's the purpose of your role, right? It's not your main responsibility to necessarily chase those fraudsters. It's interesting to see how fraud has evolved over time, how it's changed characters in a way. I hope that the industry as a whole kind of grows together a bit more when it comes to fraud because I think that's affecting everyone in the space. So I believe we should all work together.”

Misael Lopez, Funstage

Misael Lopez, Lead User Acquisition Manager of Funstage, also took on our “Marketing Reality vs. BS” panel at Mobile Spree. There, he talked about the early days of fraud, and realizing what kind of excuses were made to hide what was really going on. Talking about the present, take a look below for Misael’s view on the current state of fraud.

Transcript

“Yeah, definitely. I think that fraud comes in different ways and different outfits and costumes. You know, one thing that is also considered fraud (apart from being fraud 100%) is the quality of your users and the traffic...that you're buying. Many times people don't consider this as fraud because it's probably not, but it's also a form of buying something or paying for something you didn't want to buy.”

“That's one thing, and the other one, of course, [is that] there are a lot of sophisticated techniques now. You have click-spamming, click-injections, spoofing, you have all sorts of very advanced techniques that all those hackers and all those developers are coming out with."

“I think that the main challenge is to understand what and who you're paying, and if the money that you're paying is something that you would have received for free, as an organic traffic, or if it's something that it wasn't. But I think that it's very important to define your KPIs and your metrics and to understand who your users are. Also, if you're actually paying more, or if you're paying for users that shouldn't be attributed to any channel.”

Serge Vartanov, Chief Evangelist, AutoGravity

AutoGravity’s Chief Evangelist, Serge Vartanov, has not only given a talk at Mobile Spree San Francisco, but also engaged with us for a full interview about Audience Builder. A portion of that interview has been added here, to give you a view of what Serge makes of fraud and how it affects the app he co-founded.

Transcript

“Even before we started using Adjust's Fraud Prevention Suite, you could kind of see when there was a spike in users from a source of traffic, but there wasn't a spike of engaged users, engagement remained flat. You could kind of tell that something fishy was going on."

“Adjust gave us the tools that we needed to be able to validate our hypotheses around which network, [and] which marketing partners were sending us the highest-quality users, and that's something that matters a lot to us because ultimately what matters to AutoGravity is being able to put real people in fantastic deals for new and used cars.”


What does fraud prevention mean to AutoGravity?

Fraud prevention for us falls under a broader category of ensuring that the users who download and engage with AutoGravity are not only real people but also serious car buyers who are in the market for a vehicle.

When you optimize paid marketing across multiple channels, you can't always control who ends up seeing it. As a marketer, you want to, ensure that you're getting the best return on every dollar spent and you're reaching your core audience segment with the money that you spend. Being able to ascertain in real time that our digital spend is bringing in real people who are in the market for a vehicle – and not fraudulent traffic or users outside our target segments – allows us to be agile as it increases the speed and ability with which we can test and scale new channels safely.

Using the Fraud Prevention Suite in many ways de-risks working with new partners. It allows us to find channels through which we can reach audience segments that we're not currently reaching. In the absence of that level of protection, it would be more difficult for us to learn at as rapid of a pace as we currently learn.

We’re able to experiment more quickly, to test a broader set of partners more rapidly, to learn and grow more rapidly. And as a result, [Adjust] has allowed us to de-risk experimentation and also de-risks our marketing portfolio.

The Fraud Prevention Suite confirmed a lot of our suspicions, but nothing was really surprising. A lot of things that you know intuitively are true, when you're able to confirm that with data, it makes conversations with your partners a lot easier to have. We had a lot of difficult conversations, but we found in the end that with the partners that we work with, they're also learning from the experiences that we've had in detecting fraud. Oftentimes everyone is learning together and we all have good intentions in mind.

We’ve learned to always be informed in the discussions we have with our partners. Even if your intuition is quite strong, the most productive conversations you can have are the ones where you come with data.


These aren’t the only interviews we’ve conducted - you can find the full list of client perspectives on many other subjects, right here on our YouTube page. For more on fraud, take a look at our latest fraud guide, which gives you deeper insights into the kinds of fraud UA managers deal with every day.

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