Improving Quality of Mobile App Traffic Through Fraud Prevention


As programmatic advertising spend continues to skyrocket in recent years, fraud quickly became one of the top concerns for mobile app advertisers who conduct media-buying programmatically. In part 1 of this 2-part blog series, some of the common sources of errors that led to ad fraud are explained and ways advertisers can tell they are being affected by ad fraud are addressed. In this part, adjust discusses the repercussion of ad fraud and how advertisers can prevent it from degrading mobile app traffic quality will be discussed.

The Repercussion of Ad Fraud

As explained in part 1, there are several types of fraud. They can generally be done by both humans and nonhumans, also known as bots, to generate inflation of traffic or clicks. As a result, campaign measurement can be inaccurate - whether the metrics are impressions, clicks, purchases, cost per install (CPI), or average revenue per user (ARPU) - fraud can skew the performance. This often starts with data or reporting discrepancy but can lead to making wrong campaign decisions, such as increasing bidding budget for a publisher with fraudulent traffic or reallocating traffic to the wrong ad creative or copy. Consequently, these decisions can further bring down the quality of traffic.

In addition, there is a false picture of campaign ROI. What advertisers see may be an exaggerated truth and they may not be getting what they are paying for. Advertisers whose campaigns are affected by fraud often see low return on investment (ROI) and lost of revenue due to overpaying publishers for ads that don’t actually get seen by actual audiences or actions that did not actually happened.

The reality is - advertisers that are employing the programmatic channel are at risk of ad fraud. While this risk will not cease to exist, at least in the short-term, there are ways advertisers can mitigate this risk and ensure they are getting quality traffic. By implementing strategies to detect and prevent ad fraud, advertisers can ensure they drive stronger campaign performance and ROI.

Methods of Fraud Prevention

Establishing fraud detection can be a good step toward fraud prevention. Advertisers should investigate skewed data or reporting discrepancies to find the source of errors as soon as they are detected. Not every skewed data or every data discrepancy is a result of fraud, but if it happens to be - early detection is always good, as it will disable fraudulent traffic from affecting the campaign any further. As discussed in previous section, the repercussions of fraud affect campaigns negatively and can be quite costly. Even if a campaign has not been affected, it is a good idea to figure out a way to ensure that advertisers can detect fraud and work on preventions.

Advertisers should always look thoroughly through campaign performance reports. In addition to looking through first-party data, advertisers should request reports from third-party such as mobile attribution like adjust or RTB partners like Aarki. Aarki provide real-time campaign reports through a dashboard, which advertisers can access at their convenience. The dashboard gives advertisers complete transparency into campaign performance, creative variants, and media placement. This allows advertisers to see exactly what they are getting for their ad spend. These reports can be leveraged, if there are no skewed data or discrepancies, to conduct analyses that allow advertisers to make data-driven campaign decisions. Especially in a programmatic environment where advertisers can make real-time decisions, leveraging data to control traffic quality can help drive stronger campaign performance and result in higher ROI.

One of the other ways advertisers can prevent fraud is to thoroughly investigate their programmatic media inventory. Many real-time (RTB) platforms have a list of publishers they block due to bot or low-quality traffic. If the advertisers know additional publishers they would like to block due to any reasons, the advertisers can ask RTB platforms to add those publishers to the blacklist. In addition, advertisers can select or ask RTB platforms to bid on media selectively based on known or predicted conversion rate or ROI. For example, if the client’s KPI is ROI, Aarki optimizes for this post-install key performance indicator (KPI) by dropping underperforming traffic aggressively. This method can help reduce budget waste, prevent bidding on low-return media, and ensure that the campaign is getting quality traffic.

There is also another way advertisers ensure that they are getting high-quality inventory that is fraud-free. The key to “programmatic bliss” lies in Private Marketplace (PMP) deals. PMP deals allow advertisers to access more exclusive, first look premium-quality inventory. It increases ad placement transparency while still maintaining audience targeting, automation, and scaling. With PMP deals, advertisers know exactly what inventory they are getting and at what price. Once you have decided that you want to leverage PMP media, it is important to be selective in choosing the right partner and technology platform. The ideal partner should have direct relationships with multiple premium publishers representing your specific target audience and geography. This will boost your chances of getting high-quality inventory at a good, stable price.

As concerns about fraudulent traffic persist in the industry, advertisers should remember that detecting and preventing fraud are great ways to mitigate risks of fraud. While they are both challenging tasks and require time and effort, advertisers can achieve fraud-free traffic by leveraging today’s technology and choosing the right partners.

For more detials on mobile ad fraud prevention, visit adjust to see a case study and learn more.


About Simon Kendall

Head of Communications 

Simon is adjust’s all rounder technology translator. Having built up the company's tech support team and labored on product refinement, he's worked between clients and engineering since joining the company in 2012, and now focuses on bringing this experience to mobile techies everywhere. 

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