After a Damaging App Scam, Twitter's MoPub Hires Ad-Fraud Fighter Forensiq

February Report Alleged Fraud Involving 247 Apps

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Twitter-owned MoPub said Thursday that it's signed on ad-fraud detection company Forensiq to bolster its detection capabilities and strengthen its relationship among advertisers.

MoPub, which dubs itself as the world's largest mobile ad exchange, suffered a black eye in February when ad-fraud detection company Sentrant released a report saying it lost advertisers nearly $250,000 a day to a complex in-app fraud scheme that involved 20 shell companies and 247 apps that were downloaded more than 500,000 times on consumers' Android devices.

The infected apps, which were generally games or utilities like a flashlight, would run constantly in the background of mobile devices, serving as many as 16,000 ads in a single day without a user's knowledge.

Sentrant says the breach went on for months, which it traced back to Russia-based Academ Media. But a Twitter insider with knowledge of the situation told Ad Age that the financial impact stated in Sentrant's report is "grossly overstated."

Forensiq released a similar report seven months prior to Sentrant's, without naming any companies. Still, Google booted Academ Media -- and several other companies associated with it -- from its app store just one day after Forensiq released its report.

MoPub says it brought on Forensiq to improve the quality of ad supply across the more than 45,000 mobile apps and 450 billion monthly ad requests it sees on its platform. Although Forensiq monitors a cohort of different types of ad fraud, it is especially known in ad tech circles for in-app fraud detection.

Forensiq and another leading fraud detection company competed for MoPub's business. Twitter and MoPub declined to name the other contender.

"Marketers need assurance that industry leaders are working together to prevent fraud from deteriorating the quality of available ad supply and the effectiveness of their advertising dollars," Meridith Miller, head of commercial partnerships at MoPub, said in a statement. "Because fraud tends to follow money, it is paramount that companies take steps now to be proactive about monitoring, detecting, and mitigating any quality issues that could arise."

According to the Association of National Advertisers, ad fraud will cost the industry $7.2 billion in 2016, up nearly a $1 billion from the previous year.

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