Ad Fraud Basics - The Evolution of Spam 📈

Many Businesses dream to grow at the rate Ad Fraud is growing each year - it’s a multi-billion-dollar-market. The Industry thought leaders have predicted Ad Fraud to account for 44% of total global Ad expenditure, reaching a whooping $225 Billion. 

Who knew, a practice that started with spamming users with ads and advertisers with clicks will reach this heights and become just a peddle behind the foremost fraudulent crime of all time.

Many exceptional minds used the evolving technology to make the Digital Advertising Industry what it is today whilst others used the same tech to exploit the landscape. These let both the motive and process around spamming and conning upgrade over the years.

There are a lot of analytics and attribution platforms in digital advertising which aren’t even at 50% of what they aspire to be, due to lack of financial support or just poor engineering. The results of these skewed analytics and attribution platforms of today is allowing the fraudsters to easily take large bites from advertising spends. 

The vulnerability of Advertisers increased as these fraudsters started exploiting the App Marketing spends after almost disrupting the web space. 

So what role did Spamming play is all this? We know it’s how it all started…!!!

Click Spam

You’ll be surprised how the reality of Supply and Demand affected the evolution of spamming. The PPC payment/commission model around advertising, pays based on each click meaning an ad-click is being considered here as a payable action. So fraudsters started click spamming such Ads flooding them with clicks which gave no conversions. These fraud clicks were being generated by data centers, click farms, bot and spam networks - some of them needed manpower and some where intelligent scripts traversing through the web. 

What changed?

The rise of competition in digital advertising led to more desirable actions, and suddenly the industry was all about performance and conversions. The smartphone industry bloomed, the app store and play store got 5 times larger with more than million apps. Mobile Advertising and App Advertising spends tripled. The Global Digital Adspend crossed $300 Billion.

How Click Spam made billions?

The Mobile Advertise landscape was a new hunting ground for fraudsters. Click Spamming evolved with fraudsters executing clicks on behalf of real users who aren’t even aware about them.

It begins when a user opens a mobile web page or an app which is somehow related to the network of fraudsters. Following can happen next:

  • The mobile web page with no visible ads, starts executing clicks in the background.
  • While the user is using the app, the spammer starts generating clicks in the app background giving it a legitimate feel whereas the user has no engagement actions with advertisement.
  • Few apps like CleanUp, Icon Modifiers, Launchers, Battery Savers, Performance Boosters which are active 24/7 in the background can generate fraudulent clicks at any time. These practices can easily fool attribution platforms.
  • The spammer could also  send clicks from devices with fake advertising IDs. 

The union of these approaches have made Click Spam a multi-billion-dollar crime without any assist from real users.

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