Device farms are a type of mobile ad fraud where fraudsters manually perform actions (such as clicks, installs, and other forms of engagement) to create the illusion of legitimate activity, draining advertising budgets.
What is a device farm?
One of the older types of mobile ad fraud, device farms maintained for the purposes of ad fraud are illegal in much of the world. As mobile advertising budgets have grown, device farms dedicated to mobile fraud have grown increasingly common.
Also known as phone farms or click farms, these are used not only for fraudulent clicks, install and mobile engagement, but also for fake social media followings, and inflated app store download counts, ratings, and reviews.
How device farms work
Savvy device farmers use a variety of tactics to hide their activity, including hiding behind fresh IP addresses, using a broad variety of devices, while either enabling Limit Ad Tracking or hiding behind DeviceID Reset Fraud (resetting their DeviceIDs with each install). When perpetrated at scale, this fraud is also known as DeviceID Reset Marathons.
Though often portrayed in the media as a type of fraud specific to Asia, device farms exist around the world and drain marketing budgets in every region.