Adjust rejected 200 million fraudulent app installs in 2019

Adjust rejected nearly 200 million fraudulent app installs so far in 2019, saving clients about $450 million in ad spending and allowing them to reinvest it in channels that deliver real value, the mobile measurement company said. And the year isn’t over.

Berlin-based Adjust, which measures mobile analytics and helps advertisers and publishers skirt fraud, said its fraud prevention filters only help those clients who have activated them. That means the actual fraud perpetrated is probably far higher than the 200 million number.

The scale of fraud is hard to measure, but with global consumer spending on mobile ads hitting $190 billion in 2019 (according to mobile insights and analytics firm App Annie), the temptation to defraud advertisers is huge. Adjust started its anti-fraud business in 2016, after it detected huge increases in ad fraud on mobile.

Fraudsters don’t discriminate, and don’t care about where an app is based or in which vertical it’s categorized. Apps with high costs per action (CPAs) will be greater targets than others, Adjust said.

Adjust’s latest Global Benchmarks data shows that Click Injection accounts for 43% of all fraud, followed by Click Spamming (30%), SDK Spoofing (15%) and Fake Users/Bots (13%). This makes measures like the click validation requirement all the more important, because it dramatically increases the workload for fraudsters seeking to steal brands’ and advertisers’ ad budgets.

Juniper Research estimates that fraud will claim $42 billion of ad dollars in 2019, yet fraud prevention remains a critical challenge for marketers, Adjust said.

Adjust said it has seen substantial growth in 2019. Profitable since 2015, the company raised $227 million — one of Europe’s largest funding rounds this year — to fuel its expansion in Southeast Asia, Japan, Israel and the Middle East. This includes the recent opening of offices in Tel Aviv and Bengaluru.

Adjust said it is taking action to combat in-app bot attacks: Bots are programmed to carry out in-app events, and because they mimic human behavior, this type of fraud has become one of the hardest to fight. In January, Adjust acquired award-winning cybersecurity start-up Unbotify, which uses machine learning to detect bots in real-time. Adjust has more than 400 employees.

“Fraud prevention is a critical challenge that is growing in importance for many of the 30,000 apps we work with around the world,” said Paul Müller, chief technology officer of Adjust, in a statement. “Going into 2020, our mission remains the same: to help keep the ecosystem honest and open through education and collaboration.”

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