This is an article written by Nicolas Saraiva, Head of Delivery at Surikate, part of Mozoo group. Nicolas started his carreer as a Traffic Manager for Surikate in Paris in 2012. In 2013, he moved to London to help launching the Surikate business in the UK market. Currently, Nicolas is Head of Delivery for Surikate and he is making sure that every campaign launched is delivered successfully. As an expert in mobile performance and mobile attribution, fighting against fraud takes a big part of his daily job.
Fraud in the mobile advertising ecosystem is not a new topic; in fact, it is rather well known among industry players generally, particularly in the case of user acquisition for apps. Recently, however, war has been declared on fraudulent traffic. This fraud is the cause of wasted expenditure by advertisers and agencies and ruined customer acquisition plans. In order to optimise your expenditure and obtain the best return on investment (ROI) for your mobile acquisition campaigns, it is important to identify the different types of fraud and to understand how you can combat them.
It is estimated that nearly 30% of worldwide mobile traffic is actually fraudulent, which represents a loss of nearly a billion dollars (yes, that’s billion with a b).
At Surikate, we take a pretty hard line on the subject, characterising all non-human activity (robots, algorithms, click farms, etc.) as fraudulent alongside any traffic which does not meet campaign requirements (such as incentivised traffic when the purpose of the campaign is to acquire high quality users).
Even if the result is the same (a wasted budget, and difficulty in obtaining a positive return on investment), it is important to differentiate between these two main categories of fraud as each must be combatted in a different way.
This saying has never been truer than when you’re talking about fraud! In fact, the best way to protect yourself against fraud is to take steps beforehand, so that there is nothing to worry about afterwards.
Here, therefore, is a non-exhaustive list of good preventative strategies:
You are bound to spend a lot of time on this stage, but are you looking at the right information to eliminate the ‘wrong’ traffic?
A series of conversions can look as though they are legitimate of high quality, and appropriate. Nonetheless, it may involve fraudulent or, at the very least, very poor quality traffic. As explained above, incentivised traffic is often used in campaigns where the quality of acquisitions is supposed to be beyond reproach. In this scenario, traffic may appear legitimate at first glance, but you will quickly come to recognise that the users that you acquire are far from being active, let alone loyal.
Often, some very basic validations are all that is required to identify this traffic effectively and eradicate it from your campaign while it is still running:
You will have worked out that there are multiple ways to prevent and monitor fraud and optimise your campaign, just as there are many different risks from generating undesirable traffic!
However, some simple measures allow you to eliminate a large proportion of fraudulent activity in order to maximise the results you obtain, and with them, your ROI.
Attribution solutions have significantly improved the quality of anti-fraud measures by integrating and working closely with specialist fraud solutions. This ‘cross-industry’ collaboration will soon allow the progressive elimination of ‘bad’ traffic and will help advertisers in their acquisition strategies by allowing them to concentrate on more traditional ways of optimising their campaigns.