Focus on Fraud: What Mobile Marketers Need to Know | AppsFlyer
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Focus on Fraud: What Mobile Marketers Need to Know

Avatar Arnon Rotem-Gal-Oz Feb 18, 2016

In this Talking Fraud interview, we sat down with Patrick Witham, the Senior Mobile User Acquisition Manager with Product Madness. Product Madness is one of the world’s largest social gaming publishers, with titles such as Hearts of Vegas (Android, iOS), and FaFa Slots (Android, iOS). With over seven years of experience, Patrick is a seasoned mobile marketer and a well-regarded thought leader in our industry.

Arnon: How did you first learn about the issue of mobile fraud? 

Patrick: Mobile fraud was brought to my attention when our internal install numbers did not match those reported by our previous Mobile Measurement Partner (MMP). Our MMP was reporting more installs than we recorded internally, by a drastic percentage.

It sounds like you are very familiar with this issue. Are you of the opinion that mobile fraud is growing? Or are we, as an industry, just becoming more aware of it?

I believe that fraud is growing in the mobile industry, and that UA Managers are becoming more aware of this issue. In my opinion, the main driver of fraud growth is that the rapid growth of our industry overall. The larger the industry, the greater the number people who will try to take advantage of it. The mobile advertising space is extremely fragmented, and people are easily able to exploit this fragmentation for their personal gain.

On a very practical level, does mobile fraud impact your app marketing efforts? How? 

Fraud definitely impacts our day-to-day marketing. On a daily basis, we check to see if any of our UA vendors are supplying fake users. We also will typically spend more money with advertising networks that are transparent.

Are there specific regions that you suspect have higher fraud rates when it comes to your app marketing? 

South-East Asia is typically a more difficult region, but fraud is not limited to that specific area.

What types of fraud have you encountered? 

Install fraud mainly — bots installing and uninstalling thousands of times. I have also seen vendors misreport incentivized traffic as unincentivized traffic, which may not be your typical fraud, but can really distort your numbers.

What types of data discrepancies could indicate fraudulent activity?

Look for a sharp increase in install volume, a stark decline in Day 1 retention, and people leaving the game (or app) before accessing the tutorial.

What do you expect or want your partners and vendors to be doing about fraud? 

Vendors should not work with publishers that have supplied fraudulent traffic. When I catch vendors with fraudulent traffic, I tell them to block the publisher, and then warn them. If they are caught again — they are removed from our UA mix.

Are there key fraud prevention services missing from the marketplace? What would you like to see more of? 

Yes! We have our own way of detecting fraudulent installs but there is nothing to prevent this from happening to the smaller game developers. I would like to see any form of “catch all” technology that would be able to help out not only us, but other game developers.

What role do you believe fraud prevention will play in 12-18 months from now? How do you believe this will evolve? 

I think there will finally be a company that is able to prevent this with near 100% capability, and “clean up” the industry. This will either come from the MMP side or another 3rd party.

Looks like you a have a lot of experience. What are three things mobile app marketers should start doing to address fraud, today? 

  1. Work with trusted vendors only.
  2. Always report back publisher ID or application ID internally so you can look at retention by ID.
  3. Work with vendors with direct publisher traffic.
    Bonus: Work with vendors will full transparency and raw data exports.

To learn more about mobile app fraud, check out last week’s interview with Chartboost’s VP of Business, Pepe Agell, and this post about fighting fraud by eyeing your CPI payouts; this post about fighting fraud using raw data reports; and this helpful resource on receipt validation.

Click here to learn more about AppsFlyer’s Active Fraud Solution.