mobile ad fraud prevention

Mobile Fraud

Andry Supian by Andry Supian | October 25, 2018

Many of you may have read a recent Buzzfeed article about mobile ad fraud which does a great job of uncovering a mobile app fraud ring and I wanted to give you more detail about how this affects our business.

While Liftoff is not mentioned in the article, within 24 hours of it being published, we implemented a network-wide blacklist on the publishers that were listed as fraudulent. Fortunately, we are largely unaffected by this – less than 0.03% of our spend in 2018 was on those publishers. We will issue refunds to all affected campaigns.

From the article, it appears to be a form of fake impressions which do not lead to downstream conversions. Liftoff is generally not affected by this form of fraud because we optimize for CPI and CPA. Liftoff automatically slices out inventory (whether it be certain devices, IPs, or publishers) which doesn’t generate real business value—it gets optimized out.

As background, Liftoff strives to reduce mobile ad fraud by filtering out suspicious bid requests and optimizing towards post-install events. That said, we are aware that protecting against bad actors within the vast ecosystem is an arms race. Recently, we found a few novel ways of committing ad-fraud. For example, in some campaigns, we learned that some fraudulent sources were bypassing our servers and sending fake clicks directly to the measurement partner. In those cases, we stopped spend immediately and worked with the affected client and the measurement partner to isolate the problem and develop counter-measures against it. We are co-developing a solution with the largest MMPs to encrypt our click URLs, so that they cannot be hijacked by fraudsters.

Any time we discover a new type of fraud, or anomalous behavior from our partners and clients, we investigate it thoroughly and take appropriate actions, which can include blacklisting sources or terminating relationships with supply partners. In each case, we strive to encode the discoveries into our automated system and do so in full transparency with our clients and partners.

Liftoff strives to be the trusted channel in mobile advertising and we are committed to our investment in mobile fraud prevention. If you have any questions about this, please don’t hesitate to contact us.