Refine your fraud protection with validation rules

By Michel Hayet
fraud protection validation rules

With today’s tools, nailing a campaign’s target audience doesn’t have to be complicated. Advanced segmentation tools have made it easy to choose precisely the audience you want, so you can target them with near-personalized messaging and creative.

Unsurprisingly, this drives higher engagement and conversion.

Comprehensive market research is a necessary prerequisite for solid segmentation. Deep-dives into audience sub-segments and cross-sectional sensitivities can make or break a campaign as different messages, images and even expected user flows could be dramatically different between different groups.

Consider the notion, for example, of how a food delivery app running the image of a juicy cheeseburger would be accepted in some markets and offensive in others. 

Your market research should cover aspects like demographics and potential interests as part of the campaign planning, however, diving deeper into culture, market segments and behavioral characteristics will take it one step further in terms of market approach and performance. 

Determining who can be defined as the “right” user is a question that must initially be addressed by examining your app and its environment. App vertical and go-to-market strategy will probably carry weight over your desired user persona at different points during the campaign. 

This user persona can and should develop as your campaign progresses, based on results and performance as your initial assumptions will be put to the test – showing the market’s response to your product.

Enforcing these characteristics when running your campaign is just as important as identifying them.

Determining the expected age group, interests and even expected geographic location will help paint the full picture of your app’s user base.


Mobile fraud: Marketers’ massive hidden threat


This is where validation rules come into play

The geographic location of your desired user, OS, device, and more should correlate with the type of user you’re aiming for and enforce it. These settings should fit the deeper audience segmentation discussed above, as each subgroup within the campaign’s general targeting may require a customized set of rules.

Market A, for example, may respond better to an Android-focused campaign if the spread of Android devices in the region is greater than in market B, where iOS is the leading OS.

Additionally, personalizing different validation rules per specific partners could help you refine expectations and goals based on each partner’s capabilities and strengths.

Keeping your finger on the pulse during your campaign, while examining performance through clear KPIs, could guide you towards the required modifications on the campaign and even the product level.

Adding fraud to the mix

Unfortunately, there’s more to driving healthy conversions than just precise targeting. 

An integral part of your market research should include examining the prevalence of mobile ad fraud in the locations, audience types, and app verticals you’re aiming to approach.

Finance apps, for example, suffer from a staggering 69% fraud rate, with an estimated cost of $750 million to advertisers in the first half of 2019 alone. Finance app marketers have different considerations than marketers for casual gaming, for example, which has the lowest fraud rate in the market this year so far.

Adding an additional layer of fraud prevention validation rules will take you one step closer to acquiring your desired audience.

Protect360, AppsFlyer’s fraud prevention solution has conditions within validation rules are designed to compliment your campaign’s targeting validation rules while enhancing your fraud protection abilities.

Custom rules are meant to detect and block fraudulent installs based on more specific qualities and measurements to address specific edge cases using click to install time (CTIT), customer user ID, SDK version, and app version. 

If country X, for example, is known to have a poor internet infrastructure, the expected CTIT rate for its users must be reconsidered in order to avoid possible false flagging of legitimate  installs that took longer than usual to complete. If a specific app version is only available through a specific publisher or a specific demographic, you’d perhaps want to block its attribution from other sources.

Flexible rule-sets can help you address the more specific cases in your campaign and examine different hypotheses.

Alongside the great benefits of having control over the features above, responsible measurements and practice must also be taken into account. Setting aggressive, unmeasured validation rules could also mean a high rate of false positives- falsely flagging legitimate partners and their traffic as fraud.

When deciding on customized validation rules, make sure you and your team conduct proper research and test these changes before making large scale decisions. Reach out for support, or even include your leading partners in the decision making process, while keeping a line of communication open for results and optimization feedback, to make sure your changes truly achieve your desired goals. 

Summing it all up

Validation rules can be a great enforcement tool when used correctly. Flexible modifications and optimizations can enhance your campaign’s performance and dramatically affect your go-to-market strategy by addressing the right audience in the right way.

Michel Hayet

A former entrepreneur and digital strategy consultant, Michel is a digital advertising veteran and an expert in mobile ad fraud. Over the past ten years Michel has been studying the intricacies of the digital advertising space, focusing efforts on technology innovations, studying ad fraud methods in-depth and exploring techniques of fighting it.

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