Industry News

BuzzFeed: These Hugely Popular Android Apps Have Been Committing Ad Fraud Behind Users’ Backs

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.

eMarketer: Is App-Install Fraud on the Rise?

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."

BuzzFeed: The Partisan Meme Wars Have Come For LinkedIn

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. 

Adtech Won’t Fix Ad Fraud Because It Is Too Lucrative

Every hour of every day a million little crimes are committed online. And every time it happens, hundreds of legitimate businesses all over the world, with boards and shareholders and mission statements — some of them publicly listed — put the proceeds of those crimes in their own pockets. They do so knowingly. 

Some people might consider it extraordinary that technology businesses — businesses that claim they can discern the intent of one buyer from a billion in milliseconds — somehow can’t recognize when millions of ads a month are served to a single unique user ID in, for instance, Belarus.

Method Media Intelligence's Shailin Dhar states that "when you study actual bot traffic in isolation as well as in live ad exchanges, you realize quickly that the truth can be described best as ‘take the industry estimates of the financial impact of fraud and multiply by ten.’”

Method Media Intelligence to Present at 6th Prague Marketing Festival in March 2019

The 6th Prague Marketing Festival will be from March 20th to 22nd, 2019. Ticket sales began on June 5th, 2018. Method Media Intelligence's Shailin Dhar and Praneet Sharma will be presenting, following up on their seminar on ad fraud from earlier this year.

Pixalate Says it Uncovered ‘Sophisticated’ Android Ad Fraud Potentially Worth $75 Million Annually

Ad safety company Pixalate has uncovered what it says is a ‘sophisticated’ mobile app fraud potentially costing advertisers up to $75 million a year if allowed to run unchecked.

The company says it discovered that Android app, MegaCast which allows users to broadcast content to Google’s Chromecast, was using ‘mobile app laundering’ to generate fraudulent ad impressions.