July 27, 2015

Zombie Apps Suck Billion From Clueless Mobile Advertisers

Last year, in a post called "What Every CEO Needs To Know About Online Advertising" I wrote...
"...the online ad world is so complex and impenetrable, there may very well be types of fraud we haven't even discovered."
Last week, a new kind of fraud was discovered.

According to Ad Age...
"Thousands of so-called zombie apps are infecting mobile phones, expending data usage and battery life at an alarming rate while costing advertisers nearly a billion dollars annually."
A study done by Forensiq found the following:
- In a 10 day period, more than 12 million devices uploaded zombie apps. (If this is typical and projectible, in one year almost half a billion devices would be infected.)
- Apps available at the App store and Google Play store were infected. Infected apps ran on both Android and iOS devices.
- An infected app appears harmless but "can consume two gigabytes of data, severely drain battery life and run more than 16,000 ads without the user's knowledge."
- "...many of the apps were observed generating traffic through most major ad exchanges and networks, establishing 1,100 connections per minute and communicating with 320 ad networks per hour."
- "Sophisticated" advertisers like Coke, Microsoft, and Mercedes were being taken in by these criminals.
Once again, the digital advertising industry has shown itself to be completely clueless and unprepared for another kind of massive fraud.

Google reportedly pulled several titles from the Google Play store after hearing of the report. I guess a little mom and pop like Google doesn't have the resources to test this crap before they offer it up to the public.

Most mobile advertising occurs within apps. Until now, naive advertisers believed that since cookies are not prevalent on mobile platforms, they were protected from the types of fraud rampant on traditional online advertising. Wrong.

The astoundingly feckless Interactive Advertising Bureau (which I am fond of calling the Inactive Advertising Bureau) said the report was "groundbreaking."
"It explores the impact in the mobile space when before the focus was on display advertising,"
Huh? I'd like to know exactly what the Inactive Advertising Bureau does other than issue press releases every time they're shocked by another report of massive online ad fraud.

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