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Gaming Apps Seen at Risk for Mobile Ad Fraud

Study sees widespread fraudulent activity

February 13, 2017

As mobile ads become increasingly susceptible to ad fraud, gaming apps are more than twice as likely to be targeted than other entertainment apps.

Mobile Ad Benchmarks Worldwide: Share of Attempted Ad Fraud, by App Vertical, 2016 (% of total on ClicksMob's platform)

According to ClicksMob’s February 2017 “State of Mobile Ad Fraud” global report, mobile gaming was the most targeted vertical for fraudulent activity on its platform, with 39.0% of all attempted fraudulent traffic aimed at game apps in 2016.

When it comes to other entertainment apps, 18.0% of attempted fraud took place within lifestyle apps, while shopping and travel apps each accounted for roughly 15%. Sports apps were the least likely to be targeted, making up less than 14%.

Historically, low CPMs have kept mobile advertising largely free of fraud. But now as advertisers double down on mobile, demand has grown, driving prices up and making the space more vulnerable.

Mobile gaming is so appealing to fraudsters because of its high engagement, which means users have more time to be exposed to ads.

For example, a January 2017 report from ad tech company Fluent LLC revealed that 32% of US smartphone users with game apps on their smartphones revisit them “often” or “always. eMarketer estimates that the average US adult will spend 23 minutes a day playing games via mobile apps this year.

“As more of consumers’ time and more of advertisers’ money continues to flow to mobile apps, it’s inevitable that we’re going to see fraudulent activity follow, especially to higher-priced verticals and higher-value inventory, such as video,” eMarketer senior analyst Lauren Fisher said.

Looking at all apps, ClicksMob found iOS apps were more likely to be hit than Android apps. iOS apps accounted for 61% of attempted fraud, compared with 39% for Android apps.

Geographically, Japan was most likely to be targeted by fraudulent advertising across both iOS and Android devices, according to ClicksMob. Singapore and the US were also among the top five countries likely to be victims of fraud across both operating systems.

ClicksMob also identified a correlation between how much advertisers spend on ads and the volume of fraudulent traffic. Advertisers tend to spend more on ads during the weekend when consumers are more likely to use entertainment apps, and fraudsters have caught on to the trend. Though the difference isn’t huge, Fridays drew the most fraudulent ad attempts (18%) while Mondays drew the fewest (12%).

Maria Minsker

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