Mobile App Spam: enough is enough
Please note in advance that whilst this postis a rant, it also has a constructive learning element, so please bear with me.
I have spent the best part of 3 months consistently excluding low quality, click-farm apps from the GDN in my contextual app targeting campaigns.
I've also reported quite a few of them to Google, in the hope that they can ban them from uploading these apps to Google Play.
I don't understand why a more rigorous check can't be carried out before these apps can be granted adsense accounts.
This is a fact:There are hundreds of app developers in certain countries that develop mobile apps with the sole purpose of generating unnatural clicks. Then, after a week, once sufficient clicks and revenue have been generated by the developer, most decent advertisers that are keeping an eye on their accounts will have excluded these apps, then the revenue stream for these develoeprs slows/stops.
And then, the developer simply renames the app and re-uploads it under a slightly different name, generating clicks until the offender is again identified and removed. And so the cycle continues, and these developers (mostly in asian countries but also many in certain European countries) make a regular income from these fraudulent clicks.
Except they're not technically fraudulent, because either A) the user is a toddler using the app and clicks on it (the app is targeted at young children), or B), the advert is positioned in such a way that the user cannot help BUT click on the ad accidently.
Thus, whilst the click is not entirely fraudulent, the motivation behind the app IS fraudulent. As a professional marketer that wants to drive high quality traffic to my clients' websites, I must say I am now at the point where I will soon be telling my clients that a high-reaching, contextual mobile app campaign is simply not financially worth their while. Instead, a small-scale, placement-specific campaign is more likely to work.
This is a shame, because I want to be able to target clients by their demographic or parental status. I want to retarget to users on mobile apps, no matter what the app is.
But if the sole purpose of the app is to defraud the user, then what's the point?
And it's pretty easy to identify these fraudulent apps - one simply has to filter out all apps with average-to-low impressions, and CTRs that are over 1%. You'll see the same old offenders: torch apps, minecraft apps, bible apps, translators, calculators, video sharing, etc etc.Or, look for apps with .RU or .PL in the title, or an asian language character - you'll see an interesting pattern which is in no way coincidental: the CTR is high, the duplication of these apps (same app, slightly different name) is consistent.
If anyone is interested, I can forward you my "avoid like the plague" list of rogue app developers that keep appearing on the GDN - but then, whilst this might help you in preventing an initial wastage of several thousand dollars/pounds of your clients' hard-earned money, ultimately these apps will appear, within a week, under a slightly amended name.
So, I guess my question is to Google: what steps will you be taking to stop these spammers from appearing. The GDN is now a mess, full of these horrible apps. App advertising is incredibly important! This should be your priority - clean up your app advertisers, or people will stop advertising on your Adsense apps.