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Mobile Ad Fraud (Part 2): Zero Tolerance

in-app fraud

In the advertising market, fraud is like a constantly mutating virus. Fraudsters work day and night to mimic human behavior and normal traffic, affecting every element across the ecosystem inclusive of publishers, advertising platforms and direct advertisers. As a leading advertising in-app platform, we have to be vigilant about how we avoid in-app fraud exposure for our customers. In this post, we’ll talk about ways we’ve helped safeguard advertisers and the broader ecosystem.

At Chartboost we practice a zero tolerance policy toward all forms of in-app fraud. This includes well-known forms like click spam, click injection, bots, high-jacked devices, proxies, SDK spoofing, and much more obscure attacks. 

As a baseline, we’ve implemented firm policies and thresholds for on-boarding new publishers. This includes a dedicated team reviewing our inventory based on probabilistic in-app fraud signals, frequent checks on publisher sign-ups via our newly refreshed Publisher App Review, which now includes additional requirements for any apps that currently don’t have an active publishing campaign to be approved. We conduct monthly reviews of publisher payments and work closely with our payment gateway partners. Lastly, we support app-ads.txt, a standard released by the IAB to fight inventory fraud for apps.  

As a company, we have doubled-down on combating in-app fraud via best-in-class partnerships. 


Anti-fraud technology: We’ve integrated with one of the leading anti-fraud technology partners, Pixalate, whose Fraud Management System monitors over 2 trillion data points and 859 million unique IPs. Pixalate is one of three MRC-accredited partners who is actively working with the IAB to define standards for anti-fraud prevention. Using Pixalate helps us avoid fraud exposure on the impression level programmatically at scale.

I was excited to sit down with Pixalate for a video interview at DMEXCO to share some of my thoughts for the future beyond 2019, including downward pressure from marketers on the rest of the ecosystem to prevent fraud, a rise in third-party auditing, and higher accountability for both publishers and networks.


Deeper integrations with MMPs: We’ve enhanced integration with mobile marketing platforms (MMPs) to collect real-time install rejection data. This third-party data has become a strong signal that, together with all our other mechanisms, help us flag fraudulent accounts.


Industry participation: We are actively participating in industry anti-fraud initiatives including Adjust’s Coalition Against Ad Fraud (CAAF). The best way to fight fraud is to band together, and this industry-wide alliance brings ad platforms and networks together to share insights and best-practices in fraud prevention. We are also involved in industry working groups and discussions about fraud standardization within the mobile in-app ecosystem. 


As the industry is changing and fraud is getting more sophisticated, everyone has to do their part. As always, we are taking responsibility for continuing our efforts towards zero tolerance for fraud. As Chartboost is moving into programmatic, this is vital for us. 


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