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Performance marketing main problem is fraud

People/Machines imitating real users behaviour (clicking, installing or even registering into apps) to earn money from the advertiser’s budget. Those users are not real and are draining everybody’s patience in this industry.

Fraud has evolved for quite those 3 years that we have been in the industry.

Mainly, fraud is linked to robot leads generator. The most efficient method of producing low-quality leads or even fraudulent conversions with state-of-the-art or clumpsy tecnology. This is pretty easy to detect with Geenapp, but advertisers can fall into those tricks if they do not have the experience or work with serious partners.

Other problems about fraud are affiliates, networks or other players not following the rules set by advertisers. Big companies promoting on soft incent traffic when advertiser has asked no incent at all, or when advertiser has only asked for only direct sources and this campaign is being promoted by everyone.

But, even though is not that huge, advertisers can be fraudulent too.

– The “Pixel Shaving”: When an advertiser only fires your pixel part of the time. Monitoring the rise and fall of your conversion rates and EPC, while conducting random checks for pixel placement, is your best bet to keep pixel shaving at bay.

– The “It’s All Fraud”: Even conversions from high-quality, transparent traffic will be deemed as “all fraud” at times, usually at the hands of jaded marketers. To deal with this, both advertisers and publishers must be very clear on what is allowed as a return, what consequently defines a conversion, and also what constitutes “fraud.” It helps if your tracking platform can enter with its data and work both sides toward resolving these definitions.

Is as our parents use to tell us: keep good company. Though there’s no bulletproof solution to mobile fraud, you can better protect yourself by working with serious people and stay alert of those signs that trigger your app-owner nose.

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Fraud in the mobile industry is a bigger problem than ever

App marketers stand to lose $100m to mobile app install and engagement advertising fraud in 2016. That’s according to new research from mobile attribution and marketing analytics firm, AppsFlyer. The State of Mobile App Install & Engagement Fraud study also revealed the countries with the highest rates of advertising fraud.

Mobile app install and engagement fraud carries a cost of $350m for advertisers globally. $100m of this sum are verified fraud, whilst another $250m are suspected.

The research also found that the US may be the most targeted region in terms of advertising fraud. However, Germany, Australia, China, Canada and the UK are also experiencing high rates of app-install and engagement fraud. According to Geenapp’s Head of Quality and Fraud, Carles Cervera, that’s because generally fraudsters try to target countries where potential payout is greater. “The pirate’s effort is the same for a small payout and a big payout, that’s why pirates concentrate on the countries with higher payouts like US, Germany or Canada.” Cervera’s said. Higher cost-per-install and cost-per-action campaigns also come with greater fraud rates. Regions where there’s a low payout, such as Indonesia, Brazil, Vietnam and Thailand were found to exhibit less fraud.

Android devices are more prone (up to 50%) to advertising fraud than iOS devices, according to AppsFlyer. The exception is China, where iOS devices exhibit higher advertising fraud due to having greater ad payout rates. The main reason is because is easier to do a fake installation in android thanks to softwares that mimic the Google OS.

Fraud in different global markets

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Android devices experiencing higher fraud rates

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What is fraud in the mobile industry?

The mobile sector of CPI is very simple and yet very complex. It’s simple because it’s based on a very clear and simple concept: the client pays for each installation you generate from their app. It is complicated because of all of actors involved in it.

Before we start talking about fraud, let’s clear up these concepts:

CPD:

“Cost Per Download,” something that can only measure the “store” downloads (Google Play, iTunes…), but doesn’t allow you to know who has generated the downloads or where they come from.

CPI:

“Cost Per Installation”, making an installation is when an App is opened for the first time on a particular mobile device.

CPE:

“Cost Per Engagement” is a step further and it’s when a specific action within the installed app is done, such as finishing the first level of a game.

I would like to emphasise that in this article we’re not talking about the quality of the installations (which involves CPE), but only if the installation is correct and valid or when it isn’t. Therefore it’s important that campaigns make it clear whether they are CPE or CPI and explain that the conversion flow for the App just has to be opened or if there is some type of engagement needed later in the App.

From here on we’ll tell you about the simplest and most complex situations. For this I recommend you look at the post about the life cycle of the offer if you do not know how it works.

The simplest case is when the developer of an App gives you a URL with a tracker. When clicked, this link synchronises all the information the moment the installation is made. The tracker decides if the installation that was made is a valid one or not.

Every installation accounted have a set of basic rules: The installation can only be accounted after the first installation of an app on a device. If a user uninstall and reinstall the app, the download only will be counted the first time.

Technologically speaking, the trackers verify a series of unique device identifiers, which leaves it in the tracker’s hands to decide whether the installation is successful or not.

For this reason, there are trackers used by companies that certify the installation and other events.

Only a tracker is able to decide if an installation is valid or not. Not other external service can decide. The tracker system reflects whether or not the installation is valid.

So far we’ve only spoken of the instillations and not of the clicks on the links that redirect to consumers to the offer. Why? Basically because no matter where the traffic comes from, if it is a click from a machine/server and not from a user, the tracker will not count this as correct of give it any value.

At this point we can add the S2S System (Server-to-Server)/Postback, which sends information between machines only when the installation was successful. With this, companies now know in real time when an instillation is generated/installed and don’t need access to the original reports of the tracker.

If an advertiser left it to another agency to do the promotional work, the agency will receive (through the S2S System) a notification of the tracker, so you know at the exact moment if the install is valid or not and it’s never possible to commit fraud because the tracker, that certifies the install, approved it.

From this moment on we’ll enter the world of rebrokering. When an offer is in line it’s practically available worldwide, and this is where the networks enter the game. Simply put, networks are affiliation platforms that put a level between user-generated installations and agency’s or developers without adding value in the chain. Some of these networks hire external services for the “anti-fraud” fight, but what do these companies analyse? They do not test facility information, they only analyse the information clicks.

If they generate 100 installs, they see the clicks of these 100 facilities (which are valid because the tracker said they are valid and is the only one who can certify it) and if the anti-fraud company believes that the origin of those clicks is not OK, the network does not pay them, although they have been counted as valid (because yes they are). This means that the developer of the App has paid for the installation and if there is an agency, it has also gained an installation, but after the intermediaries do not pay their affiliates.

It makes sense that developers of Apps look in detail at the quality of the facilities, so there are incentivized offers (for those who want volume without looking at the quality facilities) and no incentive (for those who are more concerned with the quality and not volume), but it is your job to decide the price of the CPI offers based on your acquisition cost and the work with these metrics.

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The tricky redirects of some advertisers

Thanks to the Geenapp Quality System Analysis, that detects whenever a CPI campaign fails for any reason; the link is broken, the campaign targets an app that does not match, it goes through a website full of malware for your mobile phone or uses an advertiser will not pay your affiliates … We did a complete analysis and published it in this article! .

Each time we get an alert in the system we have a team of people advising advertisers to take the right decisions. We always stop running a campaign for safety and security reasons to keep our members safe, but what the owner of that campaign wants is their choice.

We all know that rebrokering (people that re-sell campaigns that already exist in the market at a lower rate) is very big in this sector.

More or less what could explain this: a developer hires an agency to move their campaign,  another agency uses this campaign and  puts it on the market again, then they search for another agency, uses this other agency and put it back for sale before it reaches the end user. If the developer paid $3 for each installation and the  publisher uses a third agency, it may be that instead of receiving the $3 they had agreed with the developer  it ends up charging $ 0.50 for the same installation. Therefore it is very important to work with the best agencies and Geenapp is connected to more then 260! Schermafbeelding 2015-11-05 om 09.27.18

 

 

Now imagine that the developer for the campaign and Agency 1 notifies Agency 2, but Agency 2 instead of notifying Agency 3 they use that link to redirect to another campaign that will not create any revenue for Agency 3. The ugly truth? This is very common in this industry and the reason why Geenapp decided to create this system to guarantee quality and so our members can always monetize. 100% of Geenapp’s facilities are yours and no one else. But things in life are not always black or white. Over the months we discovered some abusive practices of agencies and we want to highlight this practices.

But things in life are not always black or white. Over the months we discovered some abusive practices of agencies and we want to highlight this practices.

Imagine that this change is temporary, rather than permanent. 6 hours per day while workers of Agency 3 are sleeping or resting in the weekend, Agency 1 directs traffic to other campaigns, but in the morning they change it again and Agency 2 and 3 will not realize.
When we notify Agency 2 and 3 that the campaign is not working properly (detected by our Quality System Analysis), Agency 2 checks it and it seems that everything is working normal, but they have not notices for 6 hours that Agency 1 has been taking advantage of traffic of other companies to place another campaign that is more interesting to them making Agency 2 and 3 not making money with it.

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