Google cracks down on fraudulent ad bounty hunters

Chris Burns - Dec 7, 2018, 11:59 am CST
Google cracks down on fraudulent ad bounty hunters

Google’s latest update on Online Security for apps seems to suggest that they mean serious business. They’ve recently taken targeted action against a set of fraudulent app developers and codes that’ve been collecting ad bounties in ways that are … basically just not cool. These developers in this case were guilty of App Install Attribution Abuse – which is basically like tricking companies into paying cash for app installs when they’ve installed no such thing.

When people take advantage of perceived loopholes in mobile advertisement business on the Google Play app store, Google becomes highly displeased. When Google is displeased, they release the Holy Ban Hammer of the Gods, and the fraudulent activity is smote upon the mountainside. In this case, Google removed two apps from the Play Store – that’s the smite.

Google ran an investigation recently due to “reports of apps on Google Play accused of conducting app install attribution abuse by falsely claiming credit for newly installed apps to collect the download bounty from that app’s developer.” How very dare they do such a thing, those villains! Google found two apps that were guilty enough of app install attribution abuse that they were removed from the Google Play app store outright.

Google also found evidence of the same sort of abuse in “3 ad network SDKs” that were used in an array of apps on Google Play. Developers of the apps in question were sent communication by Google this week with a request to remove said SDKs from their apps.

“Because we believe most of these developers were not aware of the behavior from these third-party SDKs,” said Google, “We have given them a short grace period to take action.” Google also made sure today to mention that Google Ads SDKs “were not utilized for any of the abusive behaviors mentioned above.”

If you use apps that run ads that suggest you download apps, you might want to avoid doing so for a short time. Not that you’d go downloading apps because of advertisements anyway, right?

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