Published in


Ad Fraud in 2021: TrafficCardinal & FraudScore research

The FraudScore team has joined TrafficCardinal experts to share some insights about ad fraud, and how the situation at the global online advertising market is unraveling closer to the end of 2021, and what FraudScore has to offer.

What is happening in 2021

While the CPA market is rapidly developing, the ad fraud (both detected and unnoticed) is also spreading globally. Earlier in the day, fraudulent traffic was mostly done manually (click farms, for instance), whether now there are more bot farms, malicious extensions, websites that are loading tons of cookies, click spam production instruments — numerous options for ad fraud automation.

Global market research and forecasts for the upcoming 2022 say that advertisers are about to lose from 6 to 44 billion dollars to ad fraudsters. That might be almost 45% of all global online advertising budgets! Just to illustrate, during the first six months of 2021 FraudScore detected that 31.8% of global online advertising traffic was fraudulent. And these figures are not final yet.

March, 2021 had the smallest amount of ad fraud — more people got an option to step away from the Internet, and get out of the house (global restrictions measures were lifted).

Mobile ad fraud started growing from June, 2021. Bot traffic is still on the rise, and keeps appearing as one of the leading ad fraud types detected by FraudScore globally. Browser fraud has grown by 69% compared with 2020 data.

The most fraudulent months of 2021 — September & October. Autumn sales, holiday season, Black Friday etc — an average amount of detected ad fraud hasn’t been less than 30% during this period.

53% of Android traffic from China is fraudulent; 45% of iOS traffic from Russia&CIS is fraudulent as well.

During several months of 2020, China and APAC geos had 60% of detected ad fraud. At the beginning of 2021 we had a little less ad fraud, and there was a global improvement in the quality of ad traffic. Positive changes were a result of joint efforts of global advertisers, agencies, networks and governments to recognize and fight scammers and fraudsters.

But bad guys made up for the relaxation — and autumn, 2021 has as much ad fraud as 2020 had. Forecasts of FraudScore’s experts came to life.

How to Fight Back

The best strategy is to recognize the problem, and start working on it. According to FraudScore’s research, only one in five advertisers acknowledges the issue of ad fraud, and uses a third-party antifraud solution for protection.

FraudScore Antifraud Solution

FraudScore is one of the third-party antifraud solutions, an independent developer that has been fighting ad fraud since 2016. Our clients are ad networks, direct advertisers, agencies etc. FraudScore analyzes ad traffic quality, and detects numerous ad fraud types, including impressions fraud, click fraud, affiliate fraud, conversion fraud (installs and registrations as well).

FraudScore is an independent solution provider. So, when it comes to traffic quality evaluation, FraudScore doesn’t take anyone’s side, and remains impartial in traffic analysis results.

FraudScore’s solutions are developed with a simple purpose — business reputation and trust are key in the online advertising environment. Partners must be able to trust each other with their campaigns, budgets and contracts. And ad fraud is undermining a good business environment.

FraudScore solutions cover ad fraud prevention and detection for CPA, CPI, CPM, CPL and CPC campaigns:

  • FS.Action — designed for CPI, CPA and CPL campaigns. Used by direct advertisers, networks and agencies. The product is suitable for post-conversion analysis: it breaks all traffic into quality categories (good traffic, low index fraud, middle index fraud, high index fraud) with the ability to drill down to the analysis of each event (150+ slices) with details about detected fraud.
  • FS.RT is a product for CPC/CPM campaigns. The main users are DSP, SSP and ad networks. Real-time traffic analysis: clicks and impressions quality with detailed reporting of both good and fraudulent events.
  • SafeClick is a version of FS.RT for analyzing clicks with the options to block fraud clicks, redirect or allow all the clicks go further for analysis.
  • SmartReject — is the FS.Action function for evaluating the quality of approved and pending conversions. It helps to identify conversion fraud, and works as a companion tool for analyzing various sources.

FraudScore products can be combined with each other.

FraudScore’s Criteria for Traffic Quality Analysis

FraudScore has a non-binary approach to traffic quality analysis. Algorithms developed by the FraudScore team analyze 200+ parameters for each event and evaluate the probability and severity of fraud violations.

Each analyzed parameter has its own score — the level of violation. Each analyzed event is assigned with a fraud score: good traffic, low index fraud, middle index fraud, or high index fraud. The client has the opportunity to analyze traffic in the context of each source, event, offer, etc. In total, 50+ slices to understand the quality of traffic.

The FraudScore team helps to read the reports and build fraud cases. In controversial situations, FraudScore specialists act as a third party and use the data to show where fraud was detected, the scale of violations and the probable damage suffered by the parties.

See it for yourself

FraudScore has been trusted by the industry since 2016, and has been one of the top fighters for a clean online advertising environment. FraudScore keeps releasing Ad fraud Reports, so follow our future blog posts.

FraudScore has ready-made integrations with the leading marketing platforms (HasOffer, Affise, Offerslook, FuseClick, AppsFlyer, Adjust, AppMetrica,, Cake, Everflow, etc.). There is also the possibility of integration via API, pixel and JStag.

A reminder — FraudScore team is always open for discussion, and we are ready to answer your questions and concerns about ad fraud. You can contact the FraudScore team via, and there is a 14-day free trial available to learn more about the FraudScore system.

This article can also be found at the official website of TrafficCardinal, in Russian. And there is a version of this material on Official FraudScore’s blog.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store