Audience Engagement
2 mins read

Ad fraud exists in over half of uncertified apps

Study reveals need for marketers to engage in protective measures for in-app ads

Ad fraud appears on over half (52%) of uncertified apps and in nearly one tenth (8%) of certified app traffic, according to a new whitepaper released today by Sizmek, an open ad management company for multiscreen experiences. The study, Advertising Fraud in Mobile Apps, uncovers the staggering volume of malicious traffic manifested as unsolicited or non-viewable advertising—which has the potential to increase advertiser costs and impart a poor experience for users by slowing phone speeds and draining battery life.

Sizmek analysed around 20 billion app impressions on iOS and Android devices. In total,  approximately 24,000 apps not certified by official stores were discovered to be generating malicious traffic. In addition, although official app stores provide a layer of oversight to prevent fraudulent apps from entering the marketplace, they still find their way onto mobile devices, typically from users downloading from third-party app stores or websites, where malicious app developers place sophisticated and often “legitimate” looking apps. Sizmek found instances of malicious traffic in around 4,000 certified apps.

“Uncertified apps have become a breeding ground for fraud, so brands need to be vigilant with their mobile targeting as well as their blacklists when seeking safe options to reach and impact audiences via mobile,” said Zach Schapira, Product Marketing Manager at Sizmek. “If an advertiser is deploying a piece of their budget towards in-app advertising, it’s important that they understand that malicious activity does not discriminate. As a result, it’s vital that advertisers utilise the brand safety measures available to them when planning campaigns.”

Additional key data includes:

  • For iOS devices, half (50%) of illegally downloaded uncertified apps performed malicious activity.
  • Over half (56%) of all uncertified apps on Android devices performed malicious activity.
  • AVG, a common protection suite, discovered less than a quarter (22%) of all malicious apps and under half (43%) of all malicious traffic on uncertified apps.

To read the whitepaper in full please visit