The Adjust Mobile Measurement Glossary

Click Spam (Click Fraud) | Definition

What is click spam?

Also known as organics poaching, click spam is a type of advertising fraud that happens when a fraudster executes clicks for users who haven’t made them. Unless preventative measures are in place, this allows fraudsters to claim credit for fake clicks.

Click spam begins with a user landing on a mobile web page or in an app which a fraudster is operating. From there, several kinds of fraud could take place:

  • The mobile web page could be executing clicks in the background without visible ads.
  • The spammer could begin clicking in the background while the user engages with their app, making it look as though they have interacted with an advertisement
  • The fraudulent app can generate clicks at any time if they run an app that is active in the background 24/7 (e.g., launchers, memory cleaners, battery savers)
  • The fraudster could send impressions-as-clicks to make it look as if a view has converted into an engagement.
  • The spammer could send clicks from fraudulent device IDs to tracking vendors.

What unites these approaches is that a user is not aware they’ve been registered as interacting with an ad. This is because, in actual fact, they never saw an ad. The fraudulent scheme occurs in the background of the user’s device while they stay none-the-wiser.

Why is click spam important?

Click spam, click injection and SDK spoofing are three common threats that steal marketing spend and ruin the accuracy of a marketer’s data. Click spamming captures organic traffic, brands it without its knowledge and then claims the credit for those users. It is a fraudulent technique that occurs on a massive scale, presenting an all-too-common problem within the mobile industry.

Click spam skews valuable metrics marketers need for accurate decision-making, affecting datasets and rendering them unreliable – underplaying the impact of marketing that could have generated organics.

Click spam also threatens the certainty of acquisition decisions. If an advertising network is claiming organic users and these users perform well within an app, the advertiser may decide to invest in that channel in order to acquire more of the same type of users. This creates a negative loop where the advertiser continues to pay someone else for the users they would have already acquired organically (or at least through other marketing channels). This continues until they realize the mistake – by which point it’s too late to change those strategic decisions.

To understand the difference between click spam and click injection fraud, take a look at our guide to these terms, here. As leaders in fraud prevention, Adjust also offer the Fraud Prevention Suite as an additional package, preventing fraudsters from stealing your ad spend and compromising your data.