A fake install is a mobile ad fraud tactic. It’s accomplished by fraudsters who use device emulation software in virtualized environments (on server hardware) to fake installs.
The aim is to claim advertising revenue. Fake installs defraud everyone along the advertising chain - taking money away from advertisers, publishers and networks.
Beyond lost spend, fake installs introduce fake or misleading data into the marketing funnel.
This can cause significant problems for advertisers. For example, fake installs will register as users who have gone inactive after they’ve completed the install (or reached the post-install quality goal). If these installs are attributed but not identified as fake installs, then such behavior can damage metrics over time, resulting in investing in channels which are rife with fraudulent activity, or stop entirely, missing out on legitimate users.