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2 min read

How Mobile Ad Fraudsters Are Targeting You

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Ad fraud is happening right in the palm of your hand, with 50-60% of ad fraud losses occurring in the mobile sphere.


Mobile advertising drove 75% of all digital ad spend in 2018, and fraudsters will only continue to target mobile this year. Since advertisers are dedicating up to half of their digital ad budgets to mobile advertising, it’s crucial they get a handle on fraud now.


However, don’t expect fraudsters to wave a flag that they’re targeting you. They will try to slip under the radar. Here are four types of mobile ad fraud to keep an eye on.  

1. CPM (Cost Per Mille)

CPM fraud is impression based fraud. Here, advertisers pay for impressions that never really happened. Types of CPM fraud include:

Ad Stacking. Multiple ads are ‘stacked’ on top of each other. Only the top ad is visible, but all the ads register an impression.

Pixel Stuffing. Sketchy publishers place an ad into a 1x1 pixel on a page, allowing it to register an impression even though it’s invisible to the human eye.

Auto Impressions. Fraudsters manipulate mobile apps to load ads continuously, even when the user isn't using the app.

2. CPC (Cost Per Click)

With CPC fraud, fraudsters target popular, high-ranking keywords. Meanwhile, marketers unknowingly pay for illegitimate clicks while the fraudsters make money. Fraudulent CPC methods are:

Automatic Redirection. Even though the user never clicked on an ad, they’ll be redirected to the ad’s landing page, a false click will be recorded, and the fraudster will get credit for the conversion.

Click Flooding. A large volume of fraudulent clicks is submitted.

Bots and Click Farms. Bots and click farms employed by fraudsters will go through and click on ads. Since bots won’t convert, the advertiser is paying for worthless clicks.


Mobile Ad Fraud

Source: AdExchanger


Deceptive Ads. When a user clicks on a deceptive ad, they’ll be taken to a completely unrelated landing page. This creates a problem for the user and the advertiser.

3. CPI (Cost Per Impression)

Whether it’s installs or clicks, bots or click farms, it’s bad news. Not only are fraudsters skewing your analytics, but they’re stealing your budget, too. Some types of CPI fraud are:

Installation Fraud. Fake installs are carried out by bots or groups of people (click farms).

Click Injection. Fraudsters remotely hack a device and click an ad immediately after installation, essentially stealing credit for the download.

Click Spam. If the user downloads a suspicious app, fraudsters run clicks in the background without the user’s knowledge.

4. Fraudulent Traffic

When fraudsters send bad traffic, it might look good initially but don’t be fooled. These aren’t real people.

Device ID Spoofing. A single device is manipulated to look like multiple users so impressions, clicks, and installs are counted for multiple devices.

Bot Traffic. Automated ad traffic from bots allows fraudsters to profit off fake impressions, clicks, or installs.


Mobile fraudsters are constantly updating their methods to keep up with the ever-changing mobile industry. They might make your metrics look great by creating a spike in clicks, downloads, or installs, but they’re stealing from your pockets. High click rates or impressions mean nothing when you’re not getting real conversions

Don’t be defenseless against fraudsters. Investing in an ad fraud solution and knowing how you’re vulnerable to mobile ad fraud can help keep your brand (and your budget) safe.


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