3 Types of Non-Compliant Traffic

August 13, 2018
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Chances are no one knows your app’s audience as you do. You know who it is you want to target, what KPIs need to be achieved, and what the value of that traffic is.

So what if you were paying sources a premium to deliver tier 1 traffic, but you are actually getting installs from a cheaper tier 3 region? Or what if your installs are being driven by incentivised traffic when you specifically prohibited that traffic type?

Are the installs you are getting worth the premium price you are paying?

What is non-compliant traffic?

Non-compliant traffic is traffic that does not meet the specific criteria your campaign is targeting. That might be geographic location, device type, OS version, unsolicited incentivised advertising etc. It is not necessarily fraud because it is not always intentionally misrepresented.

When is it fraud, bad actors will send traffic that they can purchase cheaply, obscure or manipulate details about its origin, and then attempt to claim premium payouts. This article will explore some methods of detecting non-compliant traffic and what you can do to protect your ad spend.

  • Do the click and the install match? It wouldn’t be uncommon for someone to click on an ad for a travel app at an airport and then install it at their destination. This might look like a click has occurred in Singapore and 10 hours later, the install occurs in Italy. Not common, but not suspicious. It would be suspicious though if a click occurred in Singapore, and then the install came just 10 minutes later from the same user, now in Italy. Looking out for mismatches between click and install like this, helps to block attribution of installs to non-compliant sources
  • Obscured details: IP masking is when fraudsters hide their actual IP address via a Proxy, TOR node or VPN. In doing this, they can misrepresent their traffic as coming from the advertiser’s target region. In addition to misrepresenting the location that traffic was generated in, fraudsters will sometimes distribute traffic from other tactics over multiple VPNs to make it more difficult to detect fraud.
  • Prohibited Incentivisation: Incentivised traffic is generated when a user performs an action, such as installing an app or clicking an ad, in order to get some form of reward. Incentivised traffic usually results in low-retention and low-engagement as the user was motivated to install the app not for the app itself, but for the reward. For this reason, incentivised traffic delivers higher conversions rates, lower-value users, and is cheaper than non-incentivised traffic.

What does TrafficGuard look for?

  • A high proportion of installs from the same IP address or through known VPNs: High proportions of installs occurring from the same IP address can be a sign that fraudsters are using a VPN to mask their origin
  • Limit Ad Tracking Enabled: Limit Ad Tracking (LAT) is a smartphone feature that ensures a user’s device ID is not shared with advertising services. High proportions of installs from devices with LAT enabled is a strong indicator of that a source is driving fraudulent traffic to your campaigns
  • Install times at unusual hours: Different apps and categories of apps have peaks and troughs of install volumes throughout the day. Spikes in install rates during typically low points is an indication that users from outside your target geographic location are installing your app
  • Excessively high conversion rates: Incentivised traffic is recognised by conversion rates that are excessively high
  • Low app engagement & retention rates: Users who have installed your app from non-incentivised traffic sources tend to have higher retention rates and lower uninstall rates as they install your app with the intention of using it. Installs from incentivised traffic sources lead to very low app engagement and retention rates as the user’s main priority is to gain a reward for completing a task

How to stay ahead of fraudsters

In order to safeguard your budget and get an accurate understanding of performance, it is important to set measures in place to ensure your ads are reaching its intended audience.

Non-compliant traffic in your campaigns not only consumes your ad spend but it corrupts your performance data. This will lead you to invest more or less in channels or markets that are actually being influenced by fraud.

TrafficGuard is continuously on the look-out for fraudsters attempting to evade detection by obscuring traffic details. TrafficGuard’s Compliance Filtering feature also adds an additional level of protection, ensuring that installs that don’t meet your targeting criteria are not attributed to paid sources.


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