Apps by Cheetah Mobile involved in advertising fraud scheme

Anne Freier | November 28, 2018

Mobile Advertising

Eight Google Play store apps have come under fire for their involvement in ad fraud schemes according to new data by app analytics and attribution firm Kochava.

The latest reveal highlights that the apps were downloaded a total of two billion times. But perhaps more worryingly seven of the apps are owned by Cheetah Mobile, the Chinese Internet company.

Cheetah Mobile has previously been in the spotlight for potential fraudulent practices. However, at the time, the company denied the allegations.

The final app is owned by Chinese tech firm Kika Tech, which Cheetah Mobile invested in back in 2016.

App ad fraud appears to be a growing phenomenon and ranges from apps which abuse user permissions to those generating fake traffic.

A BuzzFeed report previously found a large fraudulent ad network involving more than 125 Android apps stealing millions in ad dollars.

Around half of European marketers now consider invalid bots and scripts to be the primary form of app ad fraud, followed by click cramming (13%) and unauthorised re-brokering (10%).

The latest fraud involving Cheetah and Kika is a case of click flooding, whereby companies claim credit for causing app installs.

However, mobile app ad fraud is not just a problem for advertisers and brands, but also publishers and developers who ultimate may lose out on revenue. Furthermore, some types of fraud may also lead to device battery drain leaving users frustrated.

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