Mobile app fraud surges in 2021 as rural India an opportunity for app marketers : AppFlyer

Mobile apps in India are hugely successful, but that also makes them a prime target for cybercriminals to conduct fraudulent activities, according to a new report from AppsFlyer. The research firm’s “State of App Marketing in India 2022” report also highlights that rural India is a promising opportunity for app marketers, especially in the verticals of finance, games, news, shopping, utilities and entertainment.

“Over 80% of all non-organic installs in India were from non-subways. Users in Tier 2 and 3 cities, who prefer vernacular content, are now actively contributing to India’s mobile-centric economy they are becoming more and more hyperconnected,” Aditya Maheshwari, Director of Customer Success at AppsFlyer told

Meanwhile, metropolitan cities account for 12% of all organic installations, while nearly half of all non-organic installations came from six states of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. An organic install means that there were no direct expenses related to that install. Essentially, these users come across the app through a search in the app store.

The report also highlighted that larger apps (by volume of app installs) tend to have a higher proportion of app installs attributed to fraud. In India, the total financial exposure to mobile app fraud stood at $91.6 million in 2021, with an overall fraud rate of 19.61%. This number is significantly higher than the overall rate.

Xiaomi continued to lead the pack with most app installs, with over 22% market share, while Samsung continued to cling to
second place (just under 20%). However, when it came to health and fitness, Samsung was ahead of the pack.

It should be noted that Android apps have been more affected by fraud than iOS apps, although the latter are comparatively more vulnerable to click flooding. Click flooding or spamming was seen as a major concern for gaming, where nearly two-thirds of fraudulent installs were related to it. Click flooding is a type of ad fraud where a large number of clicks are sent by cyber criminals in an attempt to get the last click and steal ad spend from app marketers.

“Small apps should primarily focus on bots (which make up the vast majority of fraud for low install volume apps) while larger apps should focus on preventing click flooding,” a- he added.

The Food & Beverage industry suffered heavily from mobile ad fraud with a fraud rate of 37.43%, followed by Travel, Entertainment and Financials. The report notes that Indian app users who continue to use apps that serve ads have a higher retention rate. These consumers are called remarketed users.

According to the report, the likelihood of a 30-day retention rate from remarketing users was 63% higher than that of non-remarketing users. According to AppFlyer, a high retention rate was seen among remarketing users in the entertainment category as opposed to the non-remarketing install base.

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