You Asked, We Answered: Most Searched Questions About Ad Fraud

Whether you’re an advertiser, publisher, or user, it is natural to have questions about the growing threats of ad fraud. As the digital marketing world is moving ahead, the fraudsters are also becoming smart and coming up with new techniques to defraud marketers.

Just like taking preventative measures against ad fraud is important, it is also essential to stay updated with the terms and techniques fraudsters are using.

To ensure this, we have covered the most searched questions about ad fraud to help you understand the nitty-gritty of the techniques and tools used by fraudsters.

Get ready to binge-read!

  1. What is ad fraud?

Ad fraud is an attempt to defraud advertisers to steal money and manipulate their data with invalid traffic. The fraudsters usually use bots to perform ad fraud and trick the advertisers into thinking they are getting genuine users. As a result, the advertisers lose their ad revenue on invalid traffic. Furthermore, seeing the inflated traffic the advertisers think their ad campaigns are working and continue to invest in bot-impacted ad campaigns. According to a Juniper Research report, ad fraud is estimated to cost up to $81 billion by the end of 2022.

  1. What is bot traffic?

Bot traffic consists of automated traffic coming from bots instead of humans. Every traffic generated from bots is not always fraudulent. Sometimes the search engines send bots to crawl the websites for ranking purposes. However, bot traffic is a concern when it is used as a carrier of ad fraud. Often called SIVT or sophisticated invalid traffic. The bad bots manipulate the data of an ad campaign and commit types of ad fraud like SDK spoofing, fake clicks, and fake installs.

  1. How to detect bot traffic?

Some of the common ways to detect bot traffic that can be identified on websites, apps, and APIs are:

  • Abnormally high pageviews
  • Abnormally high bounce rate
  • Inflated traffic from unknown locations
  • Abnormal session durations
  • High number of junk conversions
  1. What is Impression Ad Fraud?

Impression means the total number of times an ad was displayed regardless of whether the ad was viewed or not. Impression fraud happens when the fraudsters create a fake website and list themselves on an ad exchange. When an advertiser buys an ad inventory on these websites, they generate impressions with the help of bots. The inflated impression numbers make the advertisers believe that their ad campaign is getting traffic. Wherein, the reality is that the ads are attracting bot traffic, and the fraudsters are getting money for invalid traffic.

  1. What is Ad Stacking?

This is a type of mobile ad fraud where the fraudsters ‘layer’ or ‘stack’ multiple ads above one another in single ad placement. While just the top ad is visible to the user, the impression or click is registered for all the ads stacked beneath each other. This further lead to advertisers paying for a fake impression or click.

  1. What is VPN Proxy Click Fraud?

A VPN is used to create a new IP address and mask the original location of a person. This is a strong tool for fraudsters to hide their tracks of ad fraud practices. With the help of a VPN proxy, they create a new IP address which helps them to keep themselves hidden from the ad fraud detection solutions. The fraudsters use this technique to mask their device location and commit fraud.

  1. What is Fake Attribution?

A fake attribution is a practice followed by fraudsters to steal the credit of an organic install by reporting a fake click as the last engagement. Being the “last-click attribution”, the attribution platforms consider a fake click as an organic click.

Usually, a fake attribution is triggered with a help of malware that comes along when a user installs an app from an unknown source. The malware helps to track the user’s activity and notifies the fraudster when the app install starts.

The malware search for the relevant information and populates into a fake click report to register as the last click engagement and gets the attribution for an organic install or one generated by a media partner.

  1. What is cookie stuffing?

This is a technique used in affiliate marketing fraud where a fraudulent affiliate fools the advertiser into thinking that they have sent traffic to their website. But in reality, they haven’t sent any traffic. This practice is also known as cookie dropping and is one of the commonly used techniques in affiliate marketing.

By fooling the advertiser, they get the commission for sending a user to their website. Furthermore, the advertiser is wasting money and getting no users in return from their affiliate campaigns

  1. What is Ad Pixel stuffing?

The technique of pixel stuffing happens when fraudsters place an ad or an entire website inside a frame of 1×1 pixel using an iframe. This makes it invisible to the human eye.

When a normal ad runs, the impressions are tracked for the legitimate ad, as well as the ads that are stacked under the invisible pixel. In this way, the fraudsters receive compensation for those fake impressions. Furthermore, they also use bots to generate fake impressions with the pixel-stuffed ads and drain the advertiser’s budget on invalid traffic.

  1. What is Incent Fraud?

This is a type of fraud where the fraudulent affiliates run non-incent campaigns on incent platforms. Due to this, they attract low-quality users that install only for incentives and have no interest in the actual app. This technique is usually used to increase the install volumes, fix low CR ratios, moderate the quality of user acquisition, or simply increase the margins.

  1. What is Click Injection?

This is a sophisticated form of click-spamming which is majorly prevalent in android devices. When a user downloads a malicious app, they allow the fraudsters to detect when any other app is downloaded on a device.

Once they know that, fraudsters trigger a click before an install is completed. As a result, the fraudster receives a credit for the install that appears legitimate and results in a CPI payout from the advertiser.

  1. What is Click Fraud?

Click Fraud is a type of ad fraud technique where the bots imitate human behavior and click on ads. In the case of mobile advertising, these bot-generated clicks also result in an app install, a conversion, or a site visit.

In pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, the publishers get paid based on the number of clicks received on an ad showing on their site. When an advertiser advertises on a fake website, the fraudsters inflate the click rate with bot traffic. Furthermore, the advertisers lose money on invalid traffic while the fraudulent publishers generate revenue from fake clicks.

  1. What is a Click Farm?

In a general sense, a click farm is a physical location where multiple devices are set up to generate clicks in bulk. These click farms are used to generate automated clicks to inflate the CTR and drain the budget of marketing campaigns. The click farms are usually managed by a real human; therefore, they can easily mimic the human behavior which makes it furthermore difficult to detect fraud traffic patterns.

The click farms are generally used to perform repetitive click-based actions, engaging on social media platforms to increase engagement and generate website traffic.

  1. What is Click Spamming?

Also known as click flooding, this is a type of mobile ad fraud where the fraudsters generate an inflated number of fake clicks. This method helps them to receive the credit for the last click before a conversion is made. By stealing the last attributed credit, the fraudsters fool the advertisers with fraudulent clicks and steal their marketing budget.

In click spamming, the fraudsters generate thousands of clicks at one time to fool the MMPs into misattributing the clicks which further results in the payout for fraudsters. In addition to this, it also impacts the marketing data of the advertisers. As a result, the advertisers continue to allocate their budget to ad campaigns that don’t drive any real traffic or conversion.

  1. What are Fake Installs?

This is a type of mobile ad fraud where the fraudsters use techniques like device farms, SDK spoofing, or device emulators to fake an install of the advertised apps. The fraudsters use these methods to steal the advertiser’s marketing budget by claiming the app install is legitimate. In addition to stealing the advertiser’s ad spend, the fake installs also skew the data for the marketer.

Due to the inflated numbers, the advertisers stand under the impression that the install campaign is performing well. As a result, they keep investing in the same ad campaign without analyzing the impacts.

  1. What is SDK spoofing?

The SDK spoofing is a process of creating legitimate installs using the data of real devices. However, no actual installs are happening. The fraudsters use this method to generate installs using real devices to fool advertisers and steal their advertising budget.

  1. What are device Farms?

This is one of the older techniques of mobile ad fraud which is also known as phone farms and click farms. The device farms are a type of mobile ad fraud where the fraudsters manually perform a task (like clicks, installs and other forms of engagement) to make the advertiser believe it is a legitimate activity. They hide their malicious activity behind fresh IP addresses and device IDs.


Every day the fraudsters are coming up with a new technique to defraud advertisers and steal their ad budget. However, to protect your ad campaigns from sophisticated bots and advanced fraud techniques it is essential to partner with an ad fraud detection & prevention solution provider like mFilterIt.

We use the capabilities of AI, ML, and data science to detect invalid traffic on your ad campaigns and take real-time action to ensure cleaner traffic.

To know how we combat ad fraud, get in touch with our experts today!


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