Soma Tah (ST): There is a clear lack of regulations and transparency in the mobile advertising sector. is this the reason for a steep rise in ad fraud cases in India?
Amit Relan (AR): In today’s digital world, trust, verifiability, and transparency barely exist. IT laws are generally confusing and have a few gaps as well. The fraudsters are simply taking advantage of this situation. For instance, a majority of apps on the Play Store today are free for users. The developers of these third-party free apps leverage in-app ads to collect revenues from ad networks. App developers get revenue from advertisers based either on the number of ads displayed or the number of ads clicked by users. While mobile advertising has served the purpose of ensuring that developer interests are met properly, it has also become a platform for various types of fraud. The most common ad fraud is fake installs where publishers cheat the advertisers through employing individuals or bots to drive fake installs to earn a profit. The other ad frauds include fake devices, fake attribution, Bots, click spam, incorrect region among others.
Ad fraud gets even more confusing as it involves several complicating factors. Fraudsters use different techniques to block businesses from discovering who they are. Even the methods that can track them can only yield an IP address or location which is useless to make a criminal case.
But, it’s not that companies are not filing suits. Recently, Uber filed a case against five ad tech companies for squandering tens of millions of dollars on fraudulent ads. According to the complaint, the inventory they bought was all fake ads. The companies that Uber engaged with were into fraudulent activities such as click spamming, ad stacking, click spoofing, etc. After the trial, the judgment came in Uber’s favor and the companies which were sued were asked to pay compensation.
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