Blog: Are you falling victim to install farms? Here’s how to know for sure

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Gary Danks
12th Mar, 2018


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03 signs of Install Farms

Have you ever wondered why your app gets so many installs which don’t lead into any actual in-app activity? Maybe you’ve concluded that there must be something wrong with the user experience or content of the app. However, there is another factor which, if you’ve ever paid to gain installs, is guaranteed to affect your app: install farms.

Imagine a room full of smartphones, like a phone shop, all laid out in a row. Continuously, every day, someone walks from one end of the row to the other, clicking on an app to install it, then moves to the next phone and does the same, and again. Once they’ve done this on every phone, they go back to the beginning of the row and open the app on the first phone, then the next, and again. 

This is an install farm.


How much app fraud comes from install farms?

Install farms accounted for 28% of all app install fraud in January 2018. During this one month, our platform detected over 812,000 fraudulent installs coming from these farms.

On behalf of our clients, we manage supply from 112 ad networks. Every single one of them has some degree of install farm fraud. In fact, we identified 12 networks that consist entirely of install farms.

Install farms are technically difficult to detect, because the installs are being driven by a real human user – but one with no interest in the actual apps, across hundreds of devices. While there are particular countries where install farms tend to be based – including India, Vietnam, Bangladesh and China – they often use a VPN to mask their actual location.
 

How can I spot install farms in my campaigns?

Install farms do give off fraudulent signals, which Machine’s platform is able to detect and stop. If you’d like to test your current campaign data for install farms, you can look for basic signals like lack of variation in carrier, time to install and time of day period.

To learn more about these signals, and how to spot them, download our ‘3 Signs of Install Farms’ report today. 

If your campaign data shows one or more of these telltale signs, it’s likely that you are paying for installs that have come from an install farm. But these are by no means the only signals which Machine uses to stop you paying for fraudulent installs – to find out more, register for a free customised trial here.
 

InsightsGary Danks