As the mobile advertising industry grows, the more opportunities present themselves for fraudsters to eat up your advertising budget. While companies across all industries turning to mobile advertising are fighting to overcome fraud, fraudsters are actively designing new methods to steal your money, waste your time and reap the benefits. Read on to learn about the latest types of fraud and how to identify and combat them.

by Sarah Jones, OAREX Capital Markets


What is mobile ad fraud?

We’re going to focus on three fraud activities: bots/click farms, fake installs, and click spam/injecting.

Click Farms – when you think of bots and click farms, imagine a warehouse of cell phones programmed to click on ads and run up click statistics. This in turn artificially increases ad revenue for the property subject to click fraud, wasting advertiser dollars.

Fake Installs – fake installs result from the bot/click farm activities. The installs look organic thanks to the changing of Google IDs, creating post-install activity, and introducing fake in-app purchases (IAPs).

Click Spam – click spam occurs when a user is active on a web page/mobile app which a fraudster happens to be operating on. The fraudster can convert the user’s impressions into engagements, which in turn skews statistics and results in an overcharge to advertisers. Click injecting is a similar tactic, but more sophisticated in the way that fraudsters will go to extra lengths to portray the install as organic through post-install activity.

This activity can be detected by VPN traffic, proxies, duplicate IPs, old OS versions, and low post-install activity within the app.

How do you prevent mobile ad fraud?

Being aware that the activity itself is taking place is the first step. Being able to recognize patterns is a simple yet effective way to seek out red flags. Bots can only mimic human activity for so long–specific click patterns will be revealed, or clicks coming from the same IP address. Additionally, working with your advertising partner to take a deeper dive into post-install app activity will reveal patterns quicker and more transparently. Blacklisting specific IP addresses that you find to be suspicious can prevent that specific fraudster from taking action in the future.


What now?

Mobile ad fraud isn’t going to be put to an end overnight, and at the rate that fraudsters are evolving, we may never be able to completely diminish it. Ultimately, continuously raising awareness really is the first step. Educating individuals within the mobile advertising industry about the hit their budgets are taking will ignite the fight against this fraudulent activity.


OAREX ( provides fast, flexible funding for publishers in the digital media ecosystem earning revenue from advertising, affiliate and marketplaces such as the App Store. Established in 2013, OAREX©, an acronym for the “Online Advertising Revenue Exchange”, and is located in the heart of Cleveland’s historical Tremont neighborhood. For more information, please visit or call 1-855-GO-OAREX.


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