The Adjust Mobile Measurement Glossary

Click Spam

Definition

What is Click Spam?

Also known as organics poaching, click spam is a type of fraud which happens when a fraudster executes clicks for users who haven’t made them.

It begins with a user landing on a mobile web page or in an app which a fraudster is operating.

From there, any one of several kinds of fraud could take place:

  • The mobile web page could be executing clicks in the background without visible ads, or ads which can be interacted with.
  • 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 advert
  • The fraudster app can generate clicks at any time if they run an app that is running in the background 24/7 (e.g. launchers, memory cleaners, battery savers etc.)
  • The fraudster could send impressions-as-clicks to make it look as if a view has converted into an engagement.
  • The spammer could blatantly send clicks from made up device IDs to tracking vendors.

What unites these approaches is that a user is not aware that they’ve been registered as interacting with an advert. That’s because in actual fact, they never even saw anything.

Why is Click Spam Important?

Click spamming captures organic traffic, brands it without its knowledge and then claims the credit for those users later.

The most obvious impact is lost campaign spend, as those affected pay for organic users without knowing their true source. This also skews valuable metrics, affecting datasets and rendering them unreliable - underplaying the impact of marketing that could have generate organics.

It 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 will obviously decide to invest in that channel to acquire more of the same type of users. This creates a circular problem, where the advertiser continues to pay someone else for the users they would have already acquired completely naturally (or through other marketing channels) until they realize the mistake.