There’s something very hypocritical about fraud. It’s an ‘everybody knows but turns a blind eye’ kind of situation. We are all saying it’s a big deal, but it seems like nobody is really acting like it is.
Here’s how it works, in the eyes of each player:
Most ad networks know exactly which of their publishers are legit and which ones are ‘criminals’. As long as those fraudulent publishers generate minor portions of mildly reasonable quality, they’ll keep them. They try to mask fraud traffic with some good, direct SDK traffic but this kind of traffic is, of course, hard to come by. Yet ad networks keep playing this game and hope that advertisers don’t check traffic quality. Unfortunately, it’s not 2012 anymore. The industry is finally cracking down on ad networks, but some are still making the most of an uneducated market.
Naturally, advertisers would rather invest in known media sources, but it doesn’t hurt them to take risks, mainly because they can always refuse to pay for low quality installs. And they do. Sometimes they’ll just not pay altogether, even if some of the traffic provided to them is absolutely legit. They’ll simply mark the ad network as spammy and move on to the next one. By doing that, they are not only getting installs for free – they are also testing their ad creatives, graphics and user reaction. It’s the perfect A/B testing environment for a new app.
Some big companies may get sued in the future, but it’s 2019 and we’re still waiting. Even if that happens, no click farm in China or Vietnam is going lose sleep over it. No one will be held accountable. The worse thing that can happen to fraudsters is if they’re caught, and the result will simply be not getting paid. It’s a numbers game. You only need a few clients to pay for this operation to be profitable.
Analytics & Attribution Companies
This is pure gold for them. They get to be the good cop (alerting about fraud and protecting their clients) and the bad cop (stopping fraudulent ad networks). There’s big money in fraud detection, and that’s why these companies make an effort to emphasize their fraud prevention products. If you don’t drill down too much, fraud is a pretty sexy threat to talk about.
Google & Facebook
They just sit back and laugh.