Mobile app developers keep fraudulent traffic at bay with anti-fraud API

Billions of dollars are spent annually on online advertising, making it a lucrative target for scammers eager to snatch some of those funds. For app developers in the Connect TV and mobile space, detecting and blocking ad fraud from their apps can be difficult without specialized tools.

Mobile and connected TVs have become breeding ground for fraudsters, in part thanks to a fragmented ecosystem of multiple app stores with millions of apps, says Pixalate, which provides a platform for fraud protection and marketing. compliance analysis for connected TV and mobile advertising. Global losses from ad fraud topped $ 35 billion, according to the World Federation of Advertisers last year, with forecasts suggesting losses will reach $ 50 billion by 2025.

To fill this gap, the company announced its Ad Trust & Safety API Suite, a set of self-service APIs and SDKs that allow developers to integrate fraud prevention technologies into apps for iOS, Android, Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and major game consoles.

“We believe that fraud prevention technology should be accessible to everyone, because no one is safe from ad fraud until everyone is safe,” said Jalal Nasir, founder and CEO of Pixalate. “Developers now have the fraud prevention tools they need. They need to protect their applications, uphold their brand reputation, and help eliminate widespread fraud.”

Impact of advertising fraud
Basically, scammers have a simple goal: to distort online ad impressions and generate revenue. Scammers can use over 40 different tactics to achieve their goals, such as using a botnet to bombard the application with fake user traffic, sending non-human traffic (referring to traffic from data centers , known headless browsers and crawlers) and spoofing traffic to look like a user when it isn’t. Device hacking occurs if the user already has adware or malware on the device.

According to Pixalate, app spoofing is the primary type of ad fraud for smart TVs, and device hijacking through adware and malware is the primary type on mobile devices.

For app developers, if they don’t try to block invalid traffic or bot traffic – which can lead to bogus ad clicks – they run the risk of being banned by ad networks and to see the app removed from the main app stores. And if the app is taken off the list, there is a financial impact, as developers face clawbacks, where ad commissions have to be refunded.

The problem is, many developers aren’t even aware of the fraudulent traffic flowing through their apps and “don’t know how they could improve the quality of the traffic,” the company said. It’s a vicious cycle: they don’t know how to block fraud, so they end up suffering more fraud.

In an analysis of more than 5 million mobile apps in Google and Apple app stores, Pixalate found that more than 813,000, or more than 15%, of apps were removed from the list in the first half of 2021. These were widely used apps – with over 9 billion downloads from the Google Play Store and over 21 million consumer reviews on Apple’s App Store before being delisted. Removal from the list can be caused by various factors including having features that violate App Store policies and fraud.

Embed security in applications
Developers can integrate fraud protection features into the overall workflow with Pixalate’s new API and SDKs. Anti-fraud technology would be able to quickly check and assess whether a user is fraudulent, and block traffic if it is not a legitimate user. Developers can also research how service providers would rate the app against various risk criteria, according to the company.

Machine learning models help detect non-human traffic patterns that indicate ad fraud, Pixalate explains. The company processes 2,000 billion data points per month to calculate fraud scores for 2.5 billion mobile devices and block fraudulent traffic.

The API, which currently supports Curl, C #, Go, Javascript, Node.js, and Python, can be integrated into apps with just a few lines of code, according to the company.

Lance B. Holton