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How to Protect Gaming Apps from Fraud in 2021

The pandemic has changed the mobile app market forever. According to AppAnnie’s State of Mobile Report 2021, the average time spent in mobile apps in 2020 surpassed 4 hours 10 minutes during the pandemic — up 20% from 2019. 

The market is seeing more and more mobile game developers and publishers come aboard, and that in turn leads to higher ad budgets and increased mobile fraud.

So how do you fight mobile fraud in 2021? This article will walk you through 4 easy steps towards detecting and reporting mobile fraud using the Fraud Scanner tool by MyTracker.

Global Consumer Spending in Mobile Games 

According to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence, consumers spent nearly USD 111 bn globally on in-app purchases, subscriptions, and premium apps across the App Store and Google Play in 2020 (up 30.2% from 2019).

Games accounted for USD 79.5 bn of the 2020 spending on both app stores. This is a 26% year-on-year increase, and it represents the lion's share of the stores’ revenues (65.8% for iOS and 82.6% for Google Play).

Sensor Tower Store Intelligence

On the App Store, users spent USD 47.6 bn globally, up 25.3% year-on-year from USD 38 bn in 2019. Games on Google Play saw nearly USD 32 bn in worldwide consumer spending in 2020, up 27% year-on-year from a little more than USD 25 bn in the previous year.

In 2020, first-time installs of mobile games reached 56.2 bn across both stores, surging nearly 33% from 2019. Due to a spike in interest in the category, its year-on-year growth in 2020 outpaced the previous year’s growth by 23%. Approximately 82% of all game installs (a little more than 46 bn) were on Google Play, up 39.3% from 2019.

More Money Means More Competition

As revenues increase, so do ad costs. There are a number of reasons for this.

Companies invest more. According to an App Annie forecast, mobile ad spend is expected to reach USD 290 bn in 2021.

One of the Facebook Audience Network reports also shows that many publishers of hardcore, midcore, casual and casino games that historically used in-app purchases as the main monetization tool now tend to deploy in-app ads to increase their revenues.

Competition for users increases as more players enter the market. According to Newzoo, the number of gamers across all platforms (mobile, PC and consoles) is expected to rise to as high as 2.8 bn in 2021, with the market reaching USD 189.3 bn.

Companies competing for users and revenue are launching more ad campaigns to boost retention and monetization.

More Money Also Means More Fraud

Tighter competition leads to higher costs per install, which in turn results in bigger ad budgets. And the bigger the budgets, the higher the number of fraudsters who want to take advantage.

We estimate that up to 50% of the 2021 mobile ad traffic may be fraudulent.

This trend is especially evident in Tier 2 countries (Eastern Europe and the CIS). That’s why it is so important to use fraud prevention tools to monitor the quality of your ad campaigns and ensure efficient ad spending.

To track fraudulent ad traffic, you can use templates provided by the analytics and fraud prevention service MyTracker. These are ready-made reports that help detect fraud for each ad campaign.

MyTracker templates
MyTracker templates

Fraud Scanner is an anti-fraud system that detects all types of mobile fraud, allowing you to manage your ad spend more efficiently. You can use ready-made templates or build your own to get a more in-depth look into your ad campaigns. Let's take a look at some metrics available in the Fraud Scanner tool.

Which Fraud Metrics Should I Track?

Strict, Confident, and Soft fraud are combined metrics that track several indicators simultaneously.

Strict fraud helps detect the most obvious types of fraud by monitoring quick installs, stacking clicks, and suspicious and emulated devices. These indicators enable you to identify fraudulent traffic with almost 100% certainty.

Confident and Soft fraud requires a bit of a deeper dive. Here, you need to take into account some context, primarily the way the partner ad platform operates. You can go even more in-depth and separately look at the analytics for one of the 16 metrics.

Fraud Detection Example

Let’s check an iOS gaming app for fraud.

Step 1 

Go to Templates and select Combined fraud metrics. According to the chart, the fraud rate saw a sharp drop and then an almost immediate recovery. This might mean that the app’s fraud rate is always high or that a technical problem on your partner’s platform led to a one-day plunge.

MyTracker soft fraud metric
MyTracker offers various ready-made templates with the key metrics to measure the effectiveness of mobile apps.

Step 2 

Scrolling through the charts shows that the culprit is the Inactive installs metric – the number of devices that posted an install but didn’t see a launch within 24 hours. The change in this metric coincides with the Soft fraud chart.

Step 3

Now, let’s find the partner ad channel that brought in these installs. Our benchmark tool shows the installs are linked to Partner 7.

Note: MyTracker marks figures in red and green, red meaning a deviation from benchmark indicators.

Step 4

According to the report, Partner 7 has fraudulent traffic in two more metrics – Stacking clicks and Deferred installs.

Note: MyTracker allows you to build flexible reports for every mobile app metric.

You can send these reports to your partners and request refunds for ad campaigns and fraudulent installs detected using the Fraud Scanner.

Fraud Scanner for Your Project

The are two plans available with the Fraud Scanner: a Basic plan which is available as soon as you register and connect SDK and a Premium plan.

The basic functionality of Fraud Scanner allows you to detect fraudulent traffic using Combined metrics, identify bots by a High Install Rate, and spot click-spamming thanks to the Low CCR metric. The basic plan is enough to assess the threat of fraud and see if there is a need to subscribe to the Premium plan.

The Premium plan unlocks all Fraud Scanner capabilities:

Learn more about Fraud Scanner in this video or request a demo to get an overview of the tool's capabilities.

Tags: ad fraud