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13 April 2022
13 April 2022
Posted by TrafficGuard

“But my MMP already has ad fraud protection…”

Digital marketers need all the protection they can get to defend their ad campaigns from sophisticated invalid traffic, and mobile measurement platforms alone won’t do the trick.

Why is attribution so important?

User acquisition managers (or anyone in charge of reporting on marketing metrics) will know the importance of accurate click attribution. Having an accurate understanding of which channels are delivering the most clicks enables marketers to delegate budget effectively; investing more in lucrative channels, and less in those not driving good traffic.

More than ever, the increase in multichannel campaigns is making accurate attribution difficult. Managers working across multiple advertising platforms are faced with the huge manual task of calculating the return on ad spend (ROAS) from each channel. It’s an essential metric which helps them assess how to best allocate budget based on the engagement, relevancy, and volume of users which interact with the ads.

MMPs make attribution managers’ lives easy.

A mobile measurement partner (MMP) is a platform that attributes app installs and helps measure campaign performance across advertising channels, media sources, and ad networks. The analytics and tracking provided by MMPs are essential to efficient campaign management; when the origin of the click is known they can calculate ROAS extremely well.

But when ad fraud enters the picture, it can make things a little more tricky...

MMPs are essential tools to track your ad campaigns, but trusting their attribution data alone may leave you open to key vulnerabilities. This is because conventional MMP fraud tools only operate at or after the app install attribution, not at the impression or click level, and therefore potentially making any attribution data distorted.

To understand why this vulnerability exist in MMP fraud detection tools, we need to take a look at how MMPs operate.

MMPs attribute installs to correct clicks. If there is no ad click associated with the install, the MMP will assume this is organic. If a user clicks on multiple ads over time, the final click before the attribution will be the “winner” and can claim the click and subsequent reward—this process is known as last click attribution.

Fraudsters can easily manipulate this system to fool MMPs into attributing them as the click provider, and can subsequently claim the rewards for delivering the clicks. This renders attribution inaccurate, misleading, and inactionable. It defeats the point of having an MMP in the first place! Let’s take a look at some of the ways fraudsters are manipulating MMPs.

IVT consumes ad spend, pollutes data, and hamstrings optimisation.

How exactly are fraudsters doing this?

Bad actors know how attribution mechanics work and can easily fool attribution platforms into crediting them with the install. Basic techniques include…

Install Hijacking

A fraudster uses malware to monitor a user's activity within the app store. When the user is about to download an advertiser's app, the malicious actor fires a fake click at the MMP to gain credit for that organic install.

Fake Installs

Bots will install apps in order to retrieve rewards offered by gaming apps (such as free credit), often in huge quantities.

Click flooding

Bad actors send large numbers of fraudulent click reports in the hopes of delivering the last-click prior to get paid out by advertisers.

SDK spoofing

Bots “hide” on an app and generate a number of simulated clicks, installs and post install events that are pinged to the MMPs server.

What can this lead to?

False attributions cause disruption to marketing strategies as organic installs are under-reported, meaning budget is wasted on paid channels which aren’t driving traffic. In a digital environment with many varied channels, marketers rely on clean and actionable data to ensure their precious ad budget is being used to its full potential.

The misattribution snowball

Misattribution also has a “snowball” effect on your performance. A single install attributed to the wrong source will inflate the value of that source not just by one install, but by the value of all the subsequent events of that new user. This leads marketers to underinvest in the channels that deliver the best results, restricting their advertising ROI.

So, what options do apps have?

For full funnel protection, marketers should consider layering an ad fraud prevention solution on top of their MMP. Intelligent ad fraud protection helps to keep marketing data clean and actionable, platforms look for click/install patterns and anomalies in user behaviour to help differentiate real installs from fake ones.

TrafficGuard is the perfect complement to your MMP.

TrafficGuard is an invalid traffic and ad fraud specialist that works independently of the MMP’s attribution process. Through AI and machine learning and a more robust detection suite, TrafficGuard provides the most complete, transparent and effective verification solution in the market. TrafficGuard offers protection at the click level, blocking invalid traffic and removing invalid installs from the attribution process, meaning the MMPs are attributing using better traffic.


To see how we help augment MMP’s efforts, check out The TrafficGuard Difference.