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40% of Mobile Clicks Are Fraud?

Scrolling on a smartphone is simpler than it is on a desktop or laptop computer for most people. All it takes is a simple, single-finger swipe upward or downward and the page will scroll. Smartphone manufacturers have now perfected the scrolling functionality of their devices. However, it can present a problem to many marketers, just as sites that are not optimized for mobile devices can. The reason for this is that, when scrolling on my Android device, I personally make an accidental click at least once every ten minutes. It is just something that I have gotten used to, and a similar problem occurs on sites that are mobile-optimized. When trying to click one link, I may accidentally click one that is far from what I was trying to click, as the site is so compacted on a smartphone screen. According to a new study, I am definitely not alone.

According to a study by Trademob, a mobile app marketing company, there have been a lot of fraudulent clicks that marketers are mistaking for genuine results. Here is what they wrote in their blog;

In June 2012, we conducted a study of six million mobile clicks across 10 global ad networks. An enormous 40% of paid-for clicks were found to be completely worthless showing a conversion rate from click-to-download of below 0.1%. Further analysis showed that 18% of these were highly indicative of click fraud and 22% happened accidentally.

That said, though, there really is not much that can be done about it, other than more optimization of mobile ads for the devices they will be shown on. The best that marketers can do as of right now is just to find out exactly what clicks are real and what ones are not. In that way, one can find a better, more accurate reading of their results. Not knowing which clicks are fraudulent can really give marketers a skewered perspective on the performance of their mobile marketing campaigns.

It is not only on mobile devices that this takes place of course. It has pretty much always been a problem with digital internet marketing. Trademob describes the problem well in their blog post by saying:

Online click fraud has long been a problem for advertisers and unfortunately, with the huge mobile marketing expenditure presenting an extremely lucrative opportunity for fraudsters, the mobile PPC industry isn’t safe from click fraud either. Trademob’s recent findings show the full extent of the issue and how it can be helped.

With their findings showing the issue for what it is completely, Trademob offers in their newest Whitepaper some methods for avoiding or just dealing with these fraudulent clicks. As I stated above and as is common knowledge, these clicks that are not genuine are hard to avoid. When they do happen, though, it is important to know the difference between actual conversion rates and apparent conversion rates. A fraudulent click or two can really mess up the results of an advertising campaign, but mobile advertising will always be effective.

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Pesach Lattin

Pesach "Pace" Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pace Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.

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10 Comments

  1. We have been trying a lot of mobile local advertising and we’ve seen some success. Probably because it’s local but on average 40% of the clicks are just downright fraud or fake.

    It seems like people click on accident when they are going through pandora or some other app.

  2. In many ways, the ads being presented are ripe for accidental, or unknowing clicks. Just as frustrating for the user as the advertiser, albeit less costly to a user.

  3. Just treat it as a tax or cost of doing business. It’s easier to optimize and profit then try to battle ad networks and get refunds for their garbage traffic.

  4. I imagine the same holds true for email. I accidentally open emails on my mobile device that I am trying to check the box to delete. This will drive a publisher’s open rates higher inadvertently if a lot of people are fat fingering like me.

  5. Here’s a list of ad networks that have mobile click fraud and aren’t doing enough to stop this crap:

    – Sitescout – Steve Monti
    – YHOO
    – AOL

  6. I wouldn’t necessarily refer to these clicks as fraudulent. Fraud should really be defined as someone purposely clicking for financial gain. In these cases, it is just user error. The advertisers need to work that metric into their CPC. All too often, the “F” word is used when in fact it isn’t really fraud but just an everyday occurrence. They just never worked user error and fat fingers into their metrics.

  7. Hi Michael those statistics are scary 40% of clicks that is 2 in every 5 are a waste of time. I know I have done it by mistake but this is crazy amount. Also this must be costing companies a huge amount?

    Great info thanks lee

  8. When you are promoting a particular event, send the mobile marketing message a few hours or the day before the event. Customers that are genuinely interested in the event can easily forget the message if you send it several days before the event is to take place. You do not want your customers to miss out on anything.

  9. These statistics are jaw dropping but I think we are way busy to know that a click just happened by accident. It is indeed a loss to the clients business. An effective campaign needs to be implemented to have the customers. Thanks for the info

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