The true cost of mobile ad fraud over the first half of the year has been calculated by mobile attribution and marketing analytics specialists Appsflyer, which found that $2.3bn in ad spending was subject to app install fraud over the first six months.
The findings are laid down in AppsFlyer’s 2019 State of Mobile Fraud report which surveyed 2.5bn app installs across 9,500 separate apps between January and June, a process which hammered home the true scale, sophistication and systematic nature of attacks by fraudsters.
Key findings were that 22.6% of non-organic app installs worldwide can be classed as fraudulent with 2.1% of in-app purchases labelled as fake in the second quarter – a 10% increase from the first. Platform-wide, a quarter of apps are classed as having a serious fraud problem of 20% or more.
Reshef Mann, co-founder and CTO at AppsFlyer, said: “We often refer to fraud as a game of cat and mouse, and after massive bot attacks in the summer of 2018, protection solutions found ways to counter the attacks. But in April 2019, the wave surged again as app install fraud evolved from device farms with physical devices to device emulators and other sophisticated bots and schemes capable of unlimited scale.
"The speed at which fraudsters adapt is also accelerating, from one to two months in 2018 to as little as two to three days today.”
To combat these trends Appsflyer has developed machine learning algorithms to snare those behind the 16% of app install fraud which cannot be caught in real-time.
The cost of ad fraud globally has been put as high as $30bn in some reports.