Ad fraud risk unseen by 2 in 5 marketers despite fears new ad formats will drive a surge


Marketers are unaware of the risks of ad fraud on mobile advertising campaigns, with 41% not considering mobile ad fraud to be a threat to their ad spend.


New research from mobile analytics firm AppsFlyer has revealed that marketers are largely unaware of the risks of ad fraud on mobile advertising campaigns and fear new ad formats could aggravate the issue further.

AppsFlyer’s recent State of Mobile Fraud 2019 found $2.3 billion in ad spend was exposed to app install fraud in the first half of 2019. Despite this, marketers are divided on whether ad fraud is a threat to their mobile advertising campaigns – 41% do not consider mobile ad fraud to be a risk to their ad spend.

Surprisingly, many marketers who are aware of the risks do not heed the dangers. Mobile ads top the list for future investment, but mobile ads were identified as the channel with the greatest fraud risk (53%). Compared to the US, 44% say display ads pose the biggest threat, but 24% will still invest in this medium next year.

Chris Babayode, Managing Director, EMEA, Mobile Marketing Association, comments “Given the dominance of mobile across all ad spending in general, and as the financial exposure of mobile app marketers roughly adds up to $800 million quarterly, mobile ad fraud constitutes a pressing concern for the mobile advertising industry."

When analysing the types of fraud, click flooding was as high as 52% in the UK, compared to 46% globally. There is also an international difference in the approach to combatting ad fraud – in the US, 44% have changed their metrics to account for any fraud, whereas in the UK 43% are working with a third party to verify any threats.

Paul Wright, Managing Director of UK, France & MENA, AppsFlyer said, “Ad fraud is a huge challenge for advertisers – just as mobile has rapidly evolved on all fronts, so has mobile ad fraud and the battle against it. The continued growth in ad spend, in combination with a growing risk of ad fraud means it is more crucial than ever for marketers to truly understand the effectiveness of their campaigns and to protect their ad spend.”

Taking action

Those who are aware of the risks are taking drastic action – to counteract fraud, 37% of marketers have hired a dedicated anti-fraud team of specialists. However, only half have comprehensive protection in place – 50% of marketers admit their fraud protection tools are only somewhat effective at identifying and blocking fraud.

Finding the right skills to tackle this problem is a key focus, as marketers feel the strain. Ad fraud talent is a much higher recruitment priority (43%) than programmatic experts (25%) as ad formats are expected to create a further wave of fraud.

These measures address the storm clouds they see on the horizon as newer ad formats enter the market. 69% agree the complexity of newer ad formats creates an opportunity for another peak in crime.

Wright continues, “Marketers must not ignore the warnings and learn to exercise greater caution around highly susceptible markets, platforms and verticals. By demanding greater brand safety and full transparency from media partners, marketers will continue to thwart off future threats.”


AppsFlyer analysed 700 international marketers (200 in the UK and US, 100 in Germany, Brazil and India) with an overview of consumer facing apps in gaming, shopping and travel sectors with Market Research company Savanta in July 2019.


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