UNICORN by Adways Inc. Fraud Prevention and Future of Advertising

"Because of the popularity of smartphones and the booming app business, the costs for acquiring users were gradually increasing on the developer side. That was when we felt that the problems caused by ad fraud were also going to expand."
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Q. Before we start, please tell us the reason that made you want to start using Spider AF.

Originally at UNICORN, we were proud that we were doing our own countermeasures on the delivery performance basis. But the real reason was that we wanted to see from a third person point of view if those measures really worked.

In addition, because our measures only made judgements on post-transmission performances, it was a good procedure for prevention prior to anything happening. With the idea of Spider AF’s Shared Blacklist (SBL) becoming a reality, we wanted to use Spider AF because by sharing our company’s data, we can help contribute to the development of a safer digital ad industry.

Fraud Prevention Prior To Using Spider AF

(UNICORN Dev Engineers: Mr. Inoue and Mr. Kyo)

Q. What kind of fraud prevention did you do at UNICORN before you using Spider AF?

UNICORN developed an in-house mechanism that automatically detects and eliminates things that do not lead to advertising effects, such as false taps, in order to provide the essential value of advertising from the start. As a result of that, it got connected with fraud prevention. Specifically, on UNICORN:

・Detects abnormal values and excludes them from purchase

・Detection and exclusion of erroneous banner taps

・Exclude unauthorized domains from purchase

・unsafe IP is excluded from purchase

And a variety of other countermeasures.

When Does Ad Fraud Become a Major Problem?

Q. I think that you were using fraud prevention before the term became more common, but when do you think that it became a major problem?

First of all, I think that there has been a major trend change since the main battlefield for advertising has become smartphones.

Before the appearance of smartphones, advertisers spent about $1 for user acquisition (CPA) for general Web membership registration. Naturally, even during that era there were fraudulent web registrations happening that was snatching up advertising revenue, but we didn’t think that it would grow to be such a huge problem later on. Everybody basically just dealt with it on their own.

But, because of the popularity of smartphones and the booming app business, the costs for acquiring users were gradually increasing on the developer side. That was when we felt that the problems caused by ad fraud were also going to expand.

Currently (August/2019) if we were to talk about the market cost for 1 download on the developer side (CPI), it would cost about $10 on a mobile game. If we were to compare future Web registrations, ad revenues for other companies will be high but in addition that would mean that ad fraud can happen on Web registrations in very simple steps. I think that this sort of method has spread so much that it’s being labeled as a societal problem.

Protection Against Sophisticated Ad Fraud

Q. I think that simple fraud such as bots and click farms were very common in the past. But, I think that these last few years we’ve seen more highly sophisticated large scale fraud such as click injection and click flooding. Do you think that there is a necessity to make countermeasures for those types of fraud?

At UNICORN, because we are chasing after data from the ad display those types of large scale fraud almost never occurred. But, if we were to talk about a CPI rewards system in which distributes only the ad link kind of system, those are more prone to be afflicted with ad fraud. Because of that, I think that countermeasures are necessary.

Adways group has an affiliate network called Smart-C which I use to kind of see ourselves as the target of ad fraud, then use Spider AF and try to make efforts to prevent ad fraud.

Q. When you started using Spider AF, what part did you feel particularly impressed with?

We are not particularly aware of trends involving devices and IP so it was great to receive advice on that. Originally I was taking measures against ad fraud by excluding those with strange distribution trends based on the distribution data, but I did not detect ad fraud based on OS, device, and IP distribution trends.

So, it was valuable for us to get advice on an area where measures should be taken. In addition, when I consulted about an area that was suspected to be ad fraud, it was really helpful to get consultation about deducing whether it was ad fraud based on a clear basis.

(Example of Visualized IP segment access distribution on Spider AF Dashboard)

What The Whole Industry Needs To Tackle

Q. Lately the whole ad network industry has had a pretty bad image, but what do you think they should do?

For users, ads with no value are the number one problem. It’s not because these are ads they don’t want to see but as “Info worth viewing”, I think it's important to deliver ads to the right user. UNICORN uses 3D models and AR in addition to video, to create interactive content that interested users can actually see and touch; not just advertisements that display images. We are researching every day to provide opportunities for advertisers and users to communicate.

Q. Please tell us what sets UNICORN apart.

It’s “Soulfulness”.

We are not only pursuing surface level KPIs, but we are always thinking about how advertising should be valuable to advertisers and users. If we can set the distribution by looking at the data 24 hours a day, we are reflecting on the system how it is distributed, how to incorporate human emotions, what is correct, etc. In fact, if business and engineering are not well integrated, I think it would be difficult to create a platform that can provide these intrinsic values. I think that what sets us apart is that we are trying to return value to advertisers and users in this way.

Q. Any closing words?

As a company, the correct way is creating a mechanism where you can make money but providing fundamental value. But nowadays you can also make money through fraud or other grey areas. Simply put, I think that if you are just chasing after profit and continue to turn your back against providing value to advertisers and users, you are just opening the door for the end of advertising as an entity.

In order not to be so, we will continue to transmit value through UNICORN so that fraud such as ad fraud can be eliminated, fundamental advertising value can be pursued, and advertisements can be reborn into a more free and influential presence. I want to do my best.

Thank you very much!

Learn more about Adways’s services, including UNICORN, here: https://www.adways.net/en/service/

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