Method Media Intelligence’s Shailin Dhar was recently hosted by Tom Denford of ID COMMS on the MediaSnack podcast. On the podcast, he discussed Ad Fraud, how it happens, and what advertisers can do about it. Shailin covered how he first developed an interest in addressing challenges in the digital advertising industry and decided to found Method with Praneet Sharma. Finally, he covered his outlook on the future of digital advertising and improvements that marketers can make to their practices.
In this episode, Praneet and Shailin return to the show to discuss how advertising fraud is getting worse–not better. Praneet and Shailin worked with BuzzFeed reporter Craig Silverman, who was a previous guest on the show to talk about his remarkable findings about mobile advertising fraud, which accounts for hundreds of millions of dollars in theft every year.
BuzzFeed’s Craig Silverman authored a report on a series of mobile apps that are used to enable ad fraud.
Eight apps with a total of more than 2 billion downloads in the Google Play store have been exploiting user permissions as part of an ad fraud scheme that could have stolen millions of dollars, according to research from Kochava, an app analytics and attribution company that detected the scheme and shared its findings with BuzzFeed News.
Seven of the apps Kochava found were engaging in this behavior are owned by Cheetah Mobile, a Chinese company listed on the New York Stock Exchange that last year was accused of fraudulent business practices by a short-seller investment firm — a charge Cheetah vigorously denied. The other app is owned by Kika Tech, a Chinese company now headquartered in Silicon Valley that received a significant investment from Cheetah in 2016. The companies claim more than 700 million active users per month for their mobile apps.
Kochava and Method’s Praneet Sharma analyzed the apps and found that the Kika Keyboard app executed click flooding and injection using the company’s own proprietary software and with functions built directly into the app itself.
The topic of this article from eMarketer’s Ross Benes is mobile attribution (app-install) fraud.
eMarketer estimates that $7.1 billion will be spent on mobile app install ads in 2018, up from $6.5 billion last year. App-install fraud refers to the practice where a company falsely gets credit for getting a user to download an app.
Fraudsters are trying to make a buck off the ad dollars that flow to mobile. Over the past 12 months, mobile attribution firm AppsFlyer analyzed 17 billion app installs across 7,000 apps worldwide. It found that the amount of install fraud roughly tripled. More than one-quarter of the installs that AppsFlyer analyzed in that timeframe were fraudulent.
Method Media Intelligence’s Praneet Sharma commented, stating that "there are two reasons that persistent install fraud is on the rise: utilization of low-fidelity identifiers and spoofing of attribution tracking."
Facebook and Twitter’s crackdown on hate speech, false news, and manipulation has caused some people to move their political content sharing to LinkedIn. The result is an increase in MAGA and #Resistance memes and intense, sometimes, vitriolic, political discussions. This spike in political content has also led to the familiar problems of fake accounts, false claims and memes, and comment threads that devolve into name-calling and sometimes threats.
BuzzFeed News began examining political content on LinkedIn after Shailin Dhar, the CEO of Method Media Intelligence, said he’d noticed an increase in accounts sharing hyperpartisan content on LinkedIn. He began making a list of the accounts because “aggressive and partisan political rhetoric is generally uncommon on a professional networking site.”
"I began noticing accounts with strange pictures and a spike in aggressive political conversation and posts,” Dhar told BuzzFeed News by email. “It was just a few accounts at first but as I continued to follow them, I saw that they were getting more engagement.”
He shared his list of profiles with BuzzFeed News, which expanded it to roughly 100 by reading comment threads and searching for political content.
We have released a demonstration of how web traffic can rapidly be generated using AWS EC2. In just 5 minutes and a few mouse clicks, we generated over 1000 concurrent visitors from 290 cities around the world.
In this case, the traffic was sent to a site maintained by Method Media Intelligence with no advertisements. But everyday, data center traffic is directed around the web to consume advertising and causes financial harm to advertisers.
Method Media Intelligence offers Proactive Auditing as a solution to this scenario. Proactive Auditing is a real-time auditing service which prevents ads from being rendered (and paid for) if a site is visited by a data center. Contact info@methodmi to learn more.