Mobile Ad Fraud: Time to Clean the Space


Christophe Collet, CEO at S4M

Digital ad spending makes up more than 60% of total advertising investments in the UK. The mobile channel is well on its way to dominate all other media channels and will double the ad spending for desktop and TV by 2018. Naturally, with more budget at stake, more incentives rise for fraud in mobile ad campaigns. The good news for the ecosystem is that advertisers and vendors are well aware of what’s at stake and have heard the call from Marc Pritchard to clean up the mobile programmatic space.

“There is no sustainable advantage in a complicated, non-transparent, inefficient and fraudulent media supply chain” – Marc Pritchard (P&G)

S4M conducted a study on 92 mobile programmatic campaigns across Europe, US, and APAC to compare results from a similar research conducted in 2016. The study evaluated three key indicators, fully rendered impressions, fraudulent clicks, and mobile landing page arrivals to observe the state of ad fraud in the industry.

Looking at fully rendered impressions there is a 4-point improvement in terms of discrepancies between the ad request and an impression 100% rendered between 2016 in 2017. This is an encouraging sign for advertisers because fully rendered impressions is the first step to actually engaging with mobile consumers.

Following the impression, the two engagement metrics such as click and mobile landing page arrivals are both susceptible to non-human traffic and fraud. Compared results from 2016, the study found an increase by 14 points of fraudulent clicks identified in mobile campaigns. The number of users that click on an ad but never arrive on a landing page also increased by 17 points in this year’s study. This is a combined result of increasing investments into the mobile channel, hence more fraudsters arise as well sophistication in fraud detection algorithms.

Ad fraud can never be eradicated. Having transparent benchmarks on the state of ad fraud in mobile campaigns is a key step to help advertisers insulate their media budgets from non-human traffic. The industry as a whole is working together to standardize metrics, eliminate discrepancies and improve fraud detection. Advertisers can help this maturation by tracking with anti-fraud technologies that have been accredited by independent organizations like the Media Rating Council. A very first step is to qualify impressions only it has 100% rendered on a mobile screen to ensure true consumer engagements.


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