Buzzfeed News has discovered a sophisticated digital advertising fraud scheme targeting Android devices, in which ads were shown to bots, not real users. The article estimates that those behind the scheme “stole close to $10 million from advertisers who used Google’s ad network to place ads in the affected websites and apps”. The fraudulent scheme operated across a large network of Android apps, including some aimed at children. It raises major questions about the reviews process used by Google. The article noted that “the Google Play store has a less rigorous app review process than Apple’s App Store.” Here’s some of what Buzzfeed News found:
An investigation by BuzzFeed News reveals that these seemingly separate apps and companies are today part of a massive, sophisticated digital advertising fraud scheme involving more than 125 Android apps and websites connected to a network of front and shell companies in Cyprus, Malta, British Virgin Islands, Croatia, Bulgaria, and elsewhere. More than a dozen of the affected apps are targeted at kids or teens, and a person involved in the scheme estimates it has stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from brands whose ads were shown to bots instead of actual humans.
Check It Out: Advertising Fraud on Android Apps Uncovered