App Install Fraud: A problem for Billions

Geplaatst door Anastazia Mrozek op Oct 29, 2018 5:39:39 PM

With the innovation and technological advancements of the past few years, the app market has gone through the roof. Business Insider estimates that advertisers spend almost $7 billion on marketing apps in the US alone. Unfortunately, this also leads to a growth of fraudsters that want to exploit this economic and technological growth. Last week, a Dutch newspaper covered research on Android apps, and how there is a large fraud scale within the advertising market. Since there are various and a high variety of different types of fraud in online and mobile advertising, consumers can become wary of downloading and using apps that aren't well known. This blog covers how fraud arises, the different kinds of fraud, and how we at Wuzzon act to cut down on fraud with our Zero Tolerance policy.


How does fraud arise in Online Marketing?

Simply put, marketing agencies pay publishers to promote advertisers product or services, so that consumers outside of their own reach might be made aware of this product. Publishers can be bloggers, website, newsletter, or app owners, of even instagram influencers. App owners can get in touch with these publishers through such marketing agencies with publishers who have the best target group for their product.This way, consumers are able to stay up to date with the latest products, and products that they might usually not see in other advertisements.


Through the use of a marketing agency, direct connections arise between the advertiser, agency, and publishers, providing each party complete transparency about the advertisement of the campaign. However, sometimes the links between the advertiser and publisher are blurred through rebrokering, which can easily lead to fraud. This second scenario, where many in-between publishers also promote the campaign, is called rebrokering, and can be so extensive that that origin of the advertisement is almost untraceable.

Through rebrokering, it can easily be that case that the advertiser pays € 3 per app install, but that the last publisher on the line with only receive € 0.15 for their promotion. In these instances, one can hardly expect high quality leads. We are proud to report that Wuzzon has consciously chosen not to close rebrokering deals, placing quality above quantity.

Fraudulent Parties and Fake Installs


Research shows that a high percentage of “fake users” originate in Russia, israel, and South East Asia. These “fake users” can use VPNs to create installs in different countries, thus earning money from marketing networks and agencies while no actual consumers are involved. They can be used to increase real conversions, by also including some fake ones, so that alarms won’t be set off. Through the use of these “Install Farms” and “Incent Abusers”, some marketing agencies see real installs, but derive no usable data.

Artificial fraudeurs also exist; “Install Hijackers” and “Click Stuffers”. Install HIjackers use a real app, loaded with malware, while Click Stuffers simply generate millions of clicks artificially by acclaiming installs that come through as their own. Luckily, these are relatively easy to detect, as conversion rise through the roof out of nowhere.

Robots, or Bots, are also used to imitate install easily. For example, multiple virtual phones are activated on a computer, after which the SDK is attacked so that it thinks that installs have taken place, while nothing has actually happened. In addition to install, these can also reproduce fake gameplay, and even payments.

How does Wuzzon ensure transparency and remain Fraud-Free?


Wuzzon uses multiple methods in order to combat fraud. Besides the fact that we hold direct contact with our publishers, and therefore retain a clear insight of when sub-sources are implemented, Wuzzon has recently set up a dedicated anti-fraud system. This allows most fraudulent practices to be detected and rejected in a real-time setting.With the help of our automated exports, false or negligent data is easily removed.The rejected data is stored in a rejection document which our account managers access. This allows them to analyze all publisher data in an orderly manner and, if necessary, reprimand or even remove publishers who do not comply with our requirements.

Wuzzon also implements personalised tests in order to make sure that the data is not faulty. We always check websites and other marketing sources that our publishers retain. By doing so, we know how, and where our campaigns are implemented. Furthermore, we apply and enforce a strict No Fraud Policy, where publishers are immediately suspended if they are suspected of fraud, and removed from our system if they are proven to be untrustworthy.

By implementing these methods, we ensure transparency to consumers, as well as publishers and advertisers.


Tags: Data Privacy, GDPR, Security