Click injection is a form of mobile ad fraud. Attackers exploit the delay between a user clicking an ad and the app registering the click.
They inject fake clicks just before the user’s legitimate click is registered. This allows the attacker to receive credit for the user’s engagement and installation, even though they had no real influence on the user’s decision.
This is a significant issue in mobile advertising, costing advertisers millions of dollars each year.
How does click injection work?
Click injection fraudsters wait for the user to click on an ad before sending a false click to the ad network just before the user’s actual click is logged by the app.
This is possible because the fraudster can detect when a user clicks on an ad and begins to install or interact with the software.
To make it look like a real ad network that the fraudster was in charge of generating the user’s engagement or installation, the false click is introduced into the app’s code shortly before the real click is registered.
The fraudster thereby gains credit for the user’s behavior and can extort money from the advertiser.
This is a serious issue for the mobile advertising sector since it may force marketers to pay for phony clicks that don’t result in actual user interaction or installations.
Moreover, click injection can skew the information that marketers use to assess the success of their campaigns, making it more challenging to maximize their advertising budgets.
Why is click injection a problem?
1. It distorts the accuracy of user acquisition data
Click injection involves fraudulent activities where an app fraudulently attributes an install to a source that didn’t bring in the user.
This inflates the performance metrics and misleads marketers into thinking that their campaigns are more successful than they are.
2. It results in wasted marketing spend
Click inject often involves automated bots, which repeatedly click on ads and fraudulently attribute installs to the source.
This results in marketers paying for ad clicks that did not result in actual user acquisition, leading to wasted marketing spend.
3. It damages the reputation of legitimate ad networks
Click injection can be carried out by apps that are part of legitimate ad networks, causing damage to the reputation of the network as a whole.
This can result in reduced trust from advertisers, which can harm the entire industry.
4. It can harm the user experience
Click injection can result in users being directed to download an app that they did not intend to install.
This can result in a poor user experience, as users may feel misled or frustrated.
5. It is illegal
Click injection is considered fraudulent activity and is illegal in many countries.
App developers and marketers who engage in click injection can face legal action, fines, and damage to their reputation.
How can advertisers protect themselves against click injection?
Click injection is a fraudulent mobile advertising practice in which an app fraudulently attributes an install to itself by sending fake clicks just before an actual install takes place.
To protect themselves against click injection, advertisers can take the following measures:
1. Analyze data
Advertisers should monitor their campaign performance closely and analyze data for any suspicious activity.
They should keep an eye on the click-to-install timeframes and check for any unusual patterns or spikes.
2. Set attribution windows
Advertisers can set an attribution window that defines the time between a click and an install. This ensures that only installs that occur within a specified timeframe are counted.
3. Use attribution tools
Advertisers should use attribution tools that help detect fraudulent activity. These tools use algorithms to analyze data and identify suspicious patterns.
4. Partner with trusted networks
Advertisers should partner with trusted mobile ad networks and publishers who follow best practices for mobile advertising.
They should also avoid working with networks that have a history of fraudulent activity.
5. Implement anti-fraud measures
Advertisers should implement anti-fraud measures such as IP blocking, device fingerprinting, and bot detection to prevent click injection.
6. Optimize campaigns
Advertisers should optimize their campaigns regularly to ensure that they are targeting the right audience and achieving the desired results.
By continuously monitoring and adjusting their campaigns, they can reduce the risk of click injection.
What are some other types of mobile ad fraud to watch out for?
There are several types of mobile ad fraud that advertisers should be aware of:
1. Attribution fraud
Attribution fraud occurs when an app takes credit for an install that it did not drive.
This can happen when an app falsely claims to have shown an ad to the user, or when an app takes credit for an install that was driven by another ad.
2. SDK Spoofing
SDK spoofing involves the manipulation of an app’s software development kit (SDK) to send false data about clicks or installs to the ad network.
3. Fake installs
In this type of fraud, attackers create fake installs by using bots or scripts to simulate real user behavior.
4. Ad stacking
Ad stacking is a practice in which multiple ads are placed on top of each other, making it difficult for users to click on the intended ad.
This results in clicks being attributed to ads that were not clicked on by the user.
5. Hidden ads
Hidden ads are ads that are not visible to the user but still generate clicks and impressions.
This can happen when ads are placed in non-visible parts of the screen or when they are disguised as other content.