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Ad fraud exists in over half of uncertified apps: Sizmek study

Ad fraud appears on over half (52 per cent) of uncertified apps and in nearly one tenth (8 per cent) of certified app traffic, according to a new whitepaper released by Sizmek, an open ad management company for multiscreen experiences.

The study, Advertising Fraud in Mobile Apps, uncovers the staggering volume of malicious traffic—manifested as unsolicited or nonviewable advertising—which has the potential to increase advertiser costs and impart a poor experience for users by slowing phone speeds and draining battery life.

Sizmek analysed around 20 billion app impressions on iOS and Android devices. In total, approximately 24,000 apps not certified by official stores were discovered to be generating malicious traffic. In addition, although official app stores provide a layer of oversight to prevent fraudulent apps from entering the marketplace, they still find their way onto mobile devices, typically from users downloading from third-party app stores or websites, where malicious app developers place sophisticated and often ‘legitimate’ looking apps. Sizmek found instances of malicious traffic in around 4,000 certified apps.

The study shows that for iOS devices, half (50 per cent) of illegally downloaded uncertified apps performed malicious activity. Over half (56 per cent) of all uncertified apps on Android devices performed malicious activity.

AVG, a common protection suite, discovered less than a quarter (22 per cent) of all malicious apps and under half (43 per cent) of all malicious traffic on uncertified apps.

“Uncertified apps have become a breeding ground for fraud, so brands need to be vigilant with their mobile targeting as well as their blacklists when seeking safe options to reach and impact audiences via mobile. If an advertiser is deploying a piece of their budget towards in-app advertising, it’s important that they understand that malicious activity does not discriminate. As a result, it’s vital that advertisers utilise the brand safety measures available to them when planning campaigns,” said Zach Schapira, Product Marketing Manager of Sizmek.