click spamming


Middle East eCommerce: The Evolving Consumer Dynamics in the FMCG Segment

The eCommerce landscape is expanding as more brands are exploring the global market and local marketplaces cashing in on local sentiments. The Middle East is one of the largest global marketplaces. It caters to shoppers from various ethnicity with wide variations in demand and product choices. Thus, the marketplace is a good mix of products from various other regions, globally renowned brands, and local traditional known names. eCommerce segments like beauty & personal care, electronics, and FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) have moved up with rapid stride across middle eastern marketplaces. In recent years, the FMCG sector has stood out among the expanding Middle East eCommerce market. Factors such as population growth, rising disposable incomes, urbanization, and changing consumer preferences have created a favorable environment for FMCG companies. One of the biggest markets in the region is the UAE with predicted eCommerce revenue for 2023 estimated around US$11,782.3 million. The next is the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) with annual eCommerce revenue of approx. US$8.53 billion in 2022 which is expected to hit US$20.01 billion revenue mark by 2027. Source: Mordor Intelligence Report FMCG companies on eCommerce, Quick commerce, and D2C platforms in the Middle East are poised for continued growth and success if they stay attuned to changing consumer dynamics. Brands can thrive in this dynamic market and capitalize on the opportunities presented by the region’s evolving consumer landscape. Let’s take a deep dive to examine the current state of the FMCG industry in the Middle East and its future prospects with evolving consumer dynamics. Understand the Arabian Way Global FMCG companies in the Middle East need to adapt products, packaging, and marketing strategies to align with local tastes, preferences, and cultural considerations will help companies establish strong connections with consumers. The eCommerce market size of Middle East by 2025 is expected to reach US$27 billion, growing by US$10 billion from 2020. Source: Mordor Intelligence Report Brands on the eCommerce platforms need to continue focusing on diversification to stay relevant in the market. The Middle East’s young and digitally savvy population will continue to drive the adoption of e-commerce, making it imperative for FMCG companies to establish a strong online presence and optimize Delivery Turn-Around-Time (TAT) to cater to evolving consumer behavior that demands swift delivery. Market Trends: The Middle East has become a crucial market for FMCG products. The growing middle-class population, rapid urbanization, and expanding eCommerce retail infrastructure have driven the demand for consumer goods. Additionally, the region’s young and tech-savvy population has embraced e-commerce platforms for FMCG purchases, presenting opportunities for both local and global companies. To stay ahead in the fiercely competitive landscape brands must: Track global & local competitors’ products performance vs yours across eCommerce platforms Monitor Search of Search and Visibility Share across platforms & locations Identify new opportunities -demographics or geographies to target in your market segment Set market strategies based on insights & analytics Enhance content to suit the local shoppers’ needs by identifying high-performing keywords Shifting Consumer Demands: Consumer preferences in the Middle East are evolving rapidly. While traditional brands and products still hold significance, consumers are increasingly seeking healthier and more sustainable options. The value-first shoppers are leading the growing demand for organic, natural, and ethically sourced products. FMCG companies are responding to these changing preferences by introducing innovative offerings and expanding their customer base but need to track what going on in the segment to stay ahead with market and competitor insights. About 46% of the budget-conscious shoppers in the UAE consistently choose private label products whenever available, and they are playing a substantial role in driving notable growth rates, particularly in the food and beverage sectors. Source: Brain & Co. Report Digital Transformation: Post-pandemic consumers have become accustomed to the convenience of online shopping and are relying more on digital platforms for FMCG needs. This shift has compelled FMCG companies to invest in e-commerce capabilities, competitive analytics solutions, and omnichannel strategies to remain competitive. In the Middle East, consumers are utilizing multiple channels, especially smartphones, to access eCommerce platforms and purchase various products online. A significant number are now shopping online at least once a month, and a PwC survey found that 73% of buyers prefer buying groceries through online platforms. Localization and Diversification: The Middle East consists of diverse markets, each with its own cultural nuances and preferences. FMCG companies that have successfully localized their products and marketing strategies have gained a competitive advantage. Adapting to local tastes, preferences, and religious considerations is crucial for long-term success. Furthermore, diversification into adjacent sectors such as personal care, hygiene, and household products presents new growth opportunities. Around 69% of UAE consumers and 63% in Saudi Arabia are willing to pay more for quality products, especially those with health benefits. Since 2020, about 75% of UAE consumers have opted for healthier alternatives while shopping, with 33% choosing organic products and 23% preferring sugar-free options. Source: Brain & Co. Report Future Outlook: The future of the FMCG industry in the Middle East appears promising. FMCG companies that embrace digital transformation, invest in e-commerce capabilities, and the adoption of advanced technologies like AI-ML-driven data analytics, and automation will enhance operational efficiency and improve the customer experience. The future of eCommerce in the Middle Eastern region looks promising, thanks to its well-connected, digitally savvy audience. With retail penetration already at 11-12% and growing, over 80% of buyers use mobile devices and 70% use social media to reach sellers. Internet penetration is nearly 100%, with 80% of users already making purchases online. Around 85% of buyers are tech-savvy and comfortable with digital payments. The region’s growing buying power and government support for eCommerce initiatives make it an ideal place where the eCommerce market will expand further in the future. Final Thoughts The FMCG industry in the Middle East is undergoing significant growth and transformation. By adapting to changing consumer preferences, leveraging e-commerce, and focusing on sustainability, FMCG companies can capture market share and drive profitability. Doesn’t matter if you are a newbie to the middle

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Decode the Fraud Series: Cracking Down on Click Spamming?

While online fraud perhaps started with email spamming, it has come a long way. Today, ad fraud takes many forms, and it costs digital advertisers several billion dollars. The lure of making quick money has motivated modern fraudsters to employ sophisticated techniques to commit fraud. Ad fraud techniques such as domain spoofing, cookie stuffing, ad stacking, ad injection, geo masking, and many others are just a few of the many techniques employed by modern fraudsters. Ad fraud is a serious problem that drains budgets and can cause long-term damage by skewing campaign performance data. Awareness is the first step for any advertiser looking to protect their ad campaigns and the budgets associated with them. This article will help you build this awareness. In the subsequent sections of this article, you will gain an in-depth understanding of one of the most prevalent click fraud techniques- click spamming. Let’s dive right in: What Is Click Spamming? Click spamming is a click fraud technique that involves the generation of fake clicks on ads or app download links. With click spamming, the clicks generated often come from genuine devices with authentic devices and user IDs. Click spamming can take many forms. Some of the most common ones are: Click Flooding- Fraudsters generate several fake clicks on ads within an app. Generating Fake Impressions- Fraudsters use a mobile app to generate fake views on videos in the background. The user is often unaware of this activity. In some cases, the app may place multiple ‘hidden’ ads within the ad interface and get credit for authentic impressions when a user views them. Organic Poaching- Fraudsters use malware-laced apps to claim credit for authentic app downloads. How Does Click Spamming Happen? Click spamming activity usually happens in one of the following two ways: 1. Click Flooding and Generating Fake Impressions: To execute this type of click fraud, the fraudster first places a utility app on the app download store. Examples of such apps may include a torch app or a calculator. However, this activity is not limited to utility apps and has been observed in games and other types of apps. Once a user has downloaded the app, it continues to run in the background. Without the knowledge of the user, the app’s in-built features generate automated clicks on ads. Similar techniques are used to generate impressions and views. 2. Organic Poaching: With organic poaching, the app downloaded by the user generates a number of clicks within the app. In some cases, it may be designed to enable an external device to click within the app. This goes on until the user downloads a promoted app or makes an in-app purchase. When they do, the credit is stolen by the fraudsters using organic poaching. While the obvious impact of such click fraud activities is the lost ad budget, there is a deeper, more serious problem. Click fraud can distort advertisers’ analytics, compromising their ability to make informed decisions. Access to data, the ability to test different ads and audiences, and the ability to optimize campaigns are perhaps the most pressing reasons to use digital advertising. Click fraud prevents advertisers from enjoying the full benefits of this access to data and associated benefits. Difference Between Click Spamming and Botnet Activity Click spamming and botnet activity have a few similarities and are often confused with each other. Both involve generating a large number of clicks on mobile apps, mobile landing pages, and web pages. However, the key difference lies in the source of the clicks. How To Identify Click Spamming in Your Ad Campaigns? Click spamming can be difficult to detect. This is because the origin of the clicks is an authentic device with a genuine device ID. That said, detecting click spamming isn’t impossible. If your ads are receiving a lot of traffic from a source, but the conversion rate is unusually low, it may be a sign of click spamming. To be sure, you can: Look into the publisher app. If the app does not have a lot of downloads but is generating a disproportionate number of clicks, consider it a red flag. It is also worth watching out for apps that haven’t been validated by Google’s Play Store. However, do you remember that there may be some genuine apps that have chosen to forego the validation process to protect their code? If you suspect a conversion, check the time between a click and a conversion. In most cases of organic poaching, fraudsters claim a conversion sometime after the click has been generated. How To Stop Click Spamming? Once you have identified sources of fake clicks, you can simply block them. However, doing this at scale every day is often not practical or effective. Manually tracking click spamming activity can be time-consuming. Moreover, the process is prone to human errors that may lead you to overlook important sources of clicks. Similarly, in some cases, wrong judgment may lead advertisers to block genuine sources of authentic conversions. The most reliable way to fight click spamming is to use an ad fraud solution like mFilterIt. mFilterIt uses its AI and ML capabilities to pinpoint verified instances of click spamming and also identify human-like traffic sources. This paints a transparent picture of your campaign performance and allows you to block sources of fraudulent traffic. Conclusion Click spamming is a serious fraud issue, but the unfortunate reality is that it is not the only one. Click fraud and other forms of online ad fraud are plaguing ad budgets and campaign reports. While this means that some advertisers will continue to struggle, for smart advertisers, this presents an opportunity to get ahead. Think about it, simply by using an ad fraud tool, you can improve campaign performance and the accuracy of your attribution sources. Get in Touch to learn more about click spamming. 

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Know the Difference Series: Click Spamming and Click Injection Explained

Digital ad fraud is growing at breakneck speed. This year, marketers are expected to lose over $100 billion to ad fraud collectively. The situation is scary, and the future seems bleak. However, many marketers and brands still successfully turn a blind eye to ad fraud, and they do it because of a lack of awareness. Awareness of the different types of ad fraud can help you be more vigilant and cautious towards the rising threats and help you save your ad budgets from getting wasted. With this blog, we hope to help you bring this awareness. As part of the “Know the Difference series”, first, we will discuss two of the most common types of mobile ad fraud prevalent in the industry. These are click spamming and click injection. While both terms may seem similar, they follow different procedures to carry out ad fraud and steal your marketing budget. Let’s look at them in more detail: Know the difference: Click Spamming and Click Injection What is Click Spamming? Click spamming is a relatively primitive way to commit ad fraud. As the name suggests, click spamming is the act of generating a large number of fake clicks on an ad. This type of fraud mostly takes place on mobile apps but isn’t limited to them. In some cases, click spamming can also be observed on websites accessed through mobile devices. In most cases, an unsuspecting user downloads an app laced with malware. In others, the websites visited by the users are operated by fraudsters. The malware allows fraudsters to click on ads without the user’s knowledge. This kind of fraud can take many forms. Some examples are: The user never sees the ads, but they are live in the background, and the fraudsters are clicking on them. This is also known as click flooding. Apps running in the background can generate clicks anytime or throughout the day (and night). Common examples of such apps include launchers, battery-saving apps, and memory-cleaner apps. Some fraudsters mask views as engagement by the user and get paid for that engagement. And in some cases, fraudsters may also send clicks from the device to different vendors to collect a payout. While Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store have security measures to detect and ban apps loaded with malware, fraudsters have found innovative ways to bypass them. For instance, some apps download malware after the app has been downloaded on a user’s device by disguising it as an update for the app. Impact of Click Spamming The most apparent impact of click spamming is the wasted advertising budget. However, click spamming has a deeper, much more dangerous impact on advertisers- skewed advertising data. Because of click spamming, certain advertising platforms and apps (publishers) may deliver an impressive number of clicks on your ad. When this is reflected in the reporting of your campaigns, it may make said ad platforms and publishers appear more impactful than they are. This keeps the advertisers in the dark and they make business decisions based on these skewed metrics which eventually impacts the performance of the digital ad campaigns. Moreover, the advertisers also keep spending on these platforms under the impression that it is providing them with performance. What is Click Injection? Click injection is an ad fraud technique similar to click spamming but more sophisticated. For advertisers, that means that detecting and avoiding instances of click injection is exponentially more difficult than detecting click spamming. Instead of frantically clicking on an ad, click injection uses a single click to conduct organic traffic poaching. This is done by ‘injecting’ a click right at the point of download. Fraudsters make use of Android apps to listen to “download broadcasts”. Simply put, these broadcasts are sent by Android apps whenever a user downloads a malicious app that has an Android broadcaster that notifies the fraudsters about a new install. When the fraudsters are notified of an app install, they ‘inject’ a click right before the installation is complete. When this happens, the fraudulent app gets access to the user’s unique device tracking code. Using this code, the fraudsters can make their click appear authentic. By doing this, the fraudsters receive the credit (and the payout) for the app install, even though the app install is usually organic. Impact of Click Injection This sophisticated fraud technique not only leads to the wastage of ad spending but also hampers the organic traffic of the advertiser. Not just the advertisers, but the genuine publishers are also victims of click injection. Due to organic traffic stealing, they lose payout to a fraudulent install. Furthermore, click injections attribute organic downloads to fraudulent websites and apps. This can mess with the ad reporting data advertisers use to make decisions about their future campaigns. Using this skewed data, advertisers may continue spending their budgets on ineffective platforms, resulting in more wasted ad spend. This also costs advertisers in the form of lost opportunities by diverting their attention from other effective platforms that may deliver better results. How can advertisers protect their ad spends? As mentioned earlier, protection begins with awareness. Now that you know about click spamming and click injection, you can look at ways to detect these activities and take corrective actions. While click spamming can be detected manually, click injection is a sophisticated form of mobile ad fraud that is hard to detect by humans. These sophisticated fraud techniques are discreet, and human-like which makes it difficult to detect with general ad fraud detection practices. For these reasons, marketers valuing holistic protection must look beyond basic ad fraud tracking techniques to prevent mobile ad fraud. mFilterIt’s advanced ad fraud detection tool helps eliminate invalid traffic across the funnel using AI/ML and data science capabilities. The solution identifies sophisticated fraud patterns based on device, behavioral, and heuristic checks and ensures that the fraudulent traffic doesn’t seep through the funnel. Conclusion Click fraud and click injection both affect marketers at multiple levels. Wasting their current advertising budgets to skewing campaign performance data that leads to subpar optimization

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Are Your Digital Ad Campaigns Safe from Sophisticated Bots?

The digital world is evolving rapidly, and marketers are moving from traditional platforms to digital platforms. But in this growing digital ecosystem, someone is hiding behind the screens to disrupt your growth. Behind all the pros of digital advertising, a manipulated truth is that marketers are unaware of who is coming to see their ad campaigns. To throw light on this, ad fraud solution providers have come into the limelight to validate how much invalid traffic is coming to the ad campaigns. However, just when the marketers were ready to combat ad fraud, cybercriminals expanded their fraud zone with sophisticated bots. Unlike the general bots, the sophisticated bots can replicate human behavior and hide easily behind the cloak of genuine traffic resulting in manipulated data. This again makes the marketer’s ad campaigns vulnerable to ad fraud. What is the solution?  Advanced Problems Need Advanced Solutions Once a sophisticated bot penetrates your digital ad campaign, it will not just impact one KPI but also manipulate your entire sales funnel and manipulate the data. For example, if you’re running an impressions campaign then first it will inflate the number of impressions with bot traffic. And once that is done, they will impact your hard KPIs like lead, conversion, or install. The result is that you not only waste your ad spend on invalid traffic but also open the gateway to your brand assets for the sophisticated bot army to attack and destroy. Thus, it is important to get a full-funnel ad fraud detection tool instead of a solution that covers just one KPI. Know in detail about the different types of sophisticated bots that are hard to detect on the web and app. And for the advanced solution, stick with us till the end of this blog. Sophisticated Web Fraud Techniques That Are Hard to Detect Imperceptible Window To improve the CTR of the site, the  fraudsters open the advertiser’s landing page to a zero-sized pixel. However, the end-user is unaware of this and when they visit the website it is registered as a click in google ads platform. The advertiser ends up paying for these clicks/visits which were not even seen by the user. Example of Page View Fraud In the above case, the user didn’t click on the advertisement, but a click has been registered. As the window size is imperceptible for the user, they are unaware of this case. Generally, it is difficult to detect these anomalies without the help of advanced data analytics capabilities. Cookie Stuffing Cookie stuffing is organic theft where a website drops one or more third-party cookies onto a user’s web browser. An Iframe of ‘0x0’ pixel is used to dropping a cookie to hijack the organic user. These malicious cookies thus incorrectly attribute the organic traffic to the fraudulent affiliate. In the above example, we have incorporated a mFilterIt pixel which drops a randomly generated cookie whenever a user visits the advertiser’s website for the first time. Upon the return of that user, the same cookie value indicates the return of the same user. We also observed that despite faking or rotating the IP, the bot device is returning the same cookie within a gap of a few minutes. Bot User Fake users or Bot emulated users usually don’t have any mouse movement or touch interactions. They are also programmed in a way where they don’t react to the advertiser’s landing page. In this case, where there is no user interaction, we use the capabilities of Machine learning algorithms combined with captured values like configurations, plugins, device settings, canvas fingerprinting, etc. This helps to analyze the bot patterns and cases where the clicks bots are happening at a high probability. With the help of AI, ML, and data science, we detected approximately 32k such cases just in the pilot phase. Sophisticated App Fraud Techniques That Are Hard to Detect Click Spam Click spamming starts when a user downloads an infected app on their device – or visits an infected mobile website. These infected apps are usually downloaded outside the walled gardens of the Play Store and IOS app store. The infected app has built-in code which is programmed to create clicks on ads or allow external devices to click within the app. The app works normally on the user’s device, except for the tiny code running click-spam activities in the background. This fraud technique generates click spamming from the user’s device without their knowledge. And the advertisers are under an impression that the clicks are generated by real users. Example of Click Spam In this case, clicks and installs are high whereas the conversion rate is as low as 0.01%. This is a clear case of click spamming. These clicks were generated in a time period of 9 days from Thailand. Surprisingly, the total clicks are equivalent to the population of the country. This kind of CTIT curve is often overlooked by the attribution platforms due to the clicks being refreshed in the background. At mFilterIt, we track the click patterns in case of click generating from the same device ID. Event Spoofing Event spoofing is one of the advanced fraud techniques used by fraudsters to manipulate the install data of advertisers. In this case, the fraudsters programmed bots that can fire fake clicks in the background to capture the events. This eventually leads to an event being spoofed and attributed without a legitimate install. This results in the advertiser believing that a legitimate install happened. However, in reality, no event has occurred. The events like bookings, purchases, signup, registration, etc. are required to be analyzed thoroughly to identify in-app fraud. Example of Event Spoofing In this case, the CTIT is distributed within a few minutes, which is unusual. The normal traffic pattern is spread over as the conversion time is usually not in the control of the publisher. mFilterIt’s Full-Funnel Model – Our Advanced Solution How We Protected a Global Pharma Player Across the Funnel A premium pharma company noticed that their impressions were high, but the number

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