How to keep APAC mobile ad fraud at bay

Mobile ad fraud, which has been a concern since the early 2010s, continues to be a challenge for brands and agencies in Asia Pacific with a new study on in-app installs finding that from November 2018 to April 2019, the region experienced an average fraud rate that was 60% higher than the average worldwide.

Ronen Mense, the president and managing director for APAC at AppsFlyer said that marketers are not paying enough attention to new anti-fraud technology and neglecting the threat of fraud overall because the number of app installs remains high.

“Countries like India and Indonesia are experiencing massive growth in their digital economies, but this results in marketers being distracted with scaling quickly because it presents tempting business possibilities,” he explained.

“On the media side, we can see that, because the demand for growth is so robust, some networks do not want to lose business over their inability to drive growth, which leads to lessened control and increased risk of fraud.

“Marketers in the region still rely on local ad networks to drive demand. These networks, however, often suffer from high rates of fraud. According to our data, nearly 60% have a fraud rate that exceeds 20%,” he says.

Resources can also often be stretched, Mense adds, as many app developers in the region have fewer resources to commit to media buying and user acquisition.

As a result, he says many are forced to buy from media sources with a lower price point, where fraud is more prevalent, thereby exposing themselves to heightened risk.

He also observed that businesses in the region are typically sensitive to price, forcing networks and media sources to offer high volumes of ad space at cheap rates. This is more likely to be utilized than those with higher prices despite the associated risks of fraud.

“App developers need to consistently be vigilant against the types of fraud which threaten their business, not only the financial implications but the cost of making erroneous decisions concerning the investment of their resources,” explains Mense.

“Given fraud comes in many forms and is constantly evolving, securing the mobile economy demands ongoing education, monitoring, and protection. It has never been more important to have robust anti-fraud measures in place amid persistent threats from malicious actors. To stay ahead, marketers and app developers need to become even more data-savvy.“

Mobile in-app install fraud saw a surge in 2015 alongside the rise of machine learning and AI as a whole, says Joshua Kwah, the marketing director at Taiger, an artificial intelligence company.

He laments that this rise was a double-edged sword, as bots can machine learn and mimic human behavior in-app download and install. This means where there are rules, bots can learn and break them.

“For example, if click influx is a criterion for fraud detection, bots can be trained to recognize them and use time lag in download clicks to avoid being identified and classified as fraudulent,” explains Kwah.

While the rise of machine learning and other AI disciplines is one of the cause, Kwah points to the exposed and open nature of SDKs, which makes developers vulnerable to hacking.

“I suspect greed plays a part as well. APAC leads the world in e-commerce and gaming demand. That would push companies to commit fraud for short-term commercial gains,” he adds.

Read the rest of the study here.


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