Tackling Mobile Marketing Fraud – 7 Important Lessons From Spyke Media by Frank Maschmeier

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Frank Maschmeier

Thanks to Frank Maschmeier, CEO, Spyke Media for providing us with valuable insights on how technology helps raise defenses against a problem that hurts the whole mobile marketing industry.

With the rise of mobile performance marketing, fraud has grown to become one of the biggest challenges the industry faces today. Although people have been hesitant to talk too much about it, it is one of the key factors to focus on in order to safeguard healthy growth for the future. In order to counter these threats, we at Spyke Media have been working hard with internal teams, third party providers and now also an exciting new startup called codinc. This was founded just recently out of the same group of companies that we stem from and is located in the same building we work in.

Over the past 9 months, we have been working internally in a closed test phase with codinc as they provided and fine-tuned their performance marketing SaaS tool called performinc. Now, we are happy to share some insights.

1. Auto-flagging fraud becomes possible

While it is usually a real pain to go through performance data, analyze traffic, conversion rates, install data etc., we now have gained a new quality of data visualization that helps identify worrying trends and raise awareness of potential fraud patterns. With performinc, our partners offer a software that actually supports auto-flagging of fraud patterns. This means: If you log in and just look at the platform, your defined flags will show the fraud if there is any. However, even with a great solution such as performinc, there’s something a mobile marketing network needs to have:

2. You need to have resources to spot and define patterns

Tools such as performinc are a huge factor to better analyze traffic and defend yourself, but you need to be sure your company has allocated enough resources and manpower to identifying and defining fraud patterns. Only if you have clever employees that look at what’s going on, turn this into rules and are able to transfer this insight into an auto rule in an SaaS tool will you be able to benefit from the advantages of software.

One example from ourselves: Over recent months, we put a lot of time into the task of understanding when certain click-to-install time patterns become problematic. Upon solving this, we were able to provide a rule that now runs in our performinc tool, and every time such a fraud pattern arises, we will automatically spot it. This was only possible because we had the people that were ready and able to consult with clients, understand their needs and make judgements based on the interests of our partners.

Another example: We were able, based on our own research, to spot something that marketers have gotten to know as click injections a long time back. It is a real problem, which is obvious when you see that adjust published a piece on it just recently. https://www.adjust.com/overview/analytics/2017/01/19/click-injection-explained-mobile-ua-fraud-in-2017/

3. You need to be able to differentiate

Looking at the results an automatic data visualization tool delivers, this is a wonderful way to work more efficiently and hit at problems more effectively. We have seen many instances where would could just take the auto-flagged fraud and turn straight to the person that caused the problem. In other instances, however, you need to be able to drill down the results some more and differentiate.

One example: Some publishers may have the right overall quality, but they may hide fraudulent patterns in the overall sum. So if you look at sub-patterns, you will be able to identify the problematic proceedings. Don’t be fooled: Just because there’s technology doesn’t mean the fraudsters stop.

4. Fraud is becoming more intelligent

Quite the opposite of the last, fraudsters tend to become less unintelligent – or, let’s be frank: Their behavior is forced to become more intelligent as technology and knowledge enhance. It is important, thus, to take this as an on-going task for mobile marketing. We have accepted that the identification of fraud patterns doesn’t stop, but is a dynamic process. Therefore, we are making sure to be in constant dialogue with the people that work on the algorithms for the software performinc and other providers of similar software solutions. We want to make sure that we share our lessons learned with them. Eventually, this will help us benefit better from technology. We think that anyone who’s serious about this task should have an interest of their own to work closely with the software providers that want to track down fraud. Giving feedback to the developers is really a great way to help the overall industry.

5. We are learning faster

Thanks to the technological advances, we have gained a very good position to spot fraudsters whenever we start working with new partners. Our software performinc will not need more than 24 to 48 hours to alarm us about anything we should be looking at. This is a very important improvement, because time is of the essence to avoid payouts to fraudulent publishers based on illegal activity. Furthermore, we are able to already amend the basis for invoicing towards advertisers before the invoice period even closes. If you spot it quickly, you reduce potential problems and extensive discussions maximally.

6. You need to be able to persist

If you want to improve quality and reduce fraud now, you must also know that this may lead to detrimental short-term effects on your revenues. Because if you become serious about spotting black sheep, this may reflect heavily in your current accounts for a short bit. In our case, we almost lost 20% of the overall revenue when we started the process. But now, we’re not only back to old revenues, but have been able to exceed them.

7. Advertisers like you if you’re serious

We were a little afraid to start talking about fraud openly. But it goes to show that advertisers like it if you’re serious about saving the business from stuff that’s not sustainable. We now can prove two things: The overall traffic quality in our network has grown – and we have been able, on the back of this, to re-active a lot of important partnerships with advertisers.

Summing it up, we believe that paying close attention to fraud is going to be a key issue for anyone who wants to stay a serious participant in mobile performance marketing. And we are certain that working with software providers such as performinc will help achieve your quality goals more efficiently and more effectively – with desirable impact on the overall market.

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