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Fake Installs

A fake install is a mobile ad fraud tactic. It’s accomplished by fraudsters who use device emulation software in virtualized environments (on server hardware) to fake installs.

What are Fake Installs?

Fake installs refer to the practice of artificially inflating the number of downloads for a mobile application by fraudulent methods, for example, creating fake accounts or utilizing bots to download the app multiple times automatically. This tactic is a violation of the guidelines set forth by app stores such as the App Store and Google Play and is considered unethical in the software development industry.

It is important to understand that fake installs not only undermines the integrity of app store rankings and recommendations but also misrepresent the true popularity of an app to potential users. This can ultimately lead to a poor user experience and wasted time and resources for those who may download an app based on its inflated metrics.

How do fake installs work?

Fake installs typically work by using fake accounts or automated bots to inflate the number of downloads for a mobile application artificially. This can be done in a few different ways;

  1. Fake Accounts: Developers or unscrupulous third parties can create a large number of fake accounts and use them to repeatedly download the same app. This makes it appear that the app is more popular than it actually is and can influence the app’s ranking in the app store.
  2. Bots: Developers or third parties can also use automated bots to repeatedly download an app. These bots can be programmed to simulate human behavior, such as clicking on ads or engaging with the app, which can make it difficult for app stores to detect fraud.
  3. Click Injection: Some fraudsters also use click injection to inflate the number of downloads or in-app events, this is done by injecting a code in the app, which, when the app is installed on the user’s device, starts showing fake events or downloads.

It’s important to mention that install fraud is prohibited and violates the terms of service set by app stores such as Google Play and Apple’s App Store. Developers engaging in this practice risk having their apps removed from the app store and even being banned from the platform.

How are fake installs detected?

Detection of fake installs is an essential part of maintaining the integrity of mobile app stores and making sure that users have access to accurate information about app popularity and usage. There are a number of different methods that can be used to detect fake installs, including:

  1. IP Address Analysis: Tracking the IP addresses from which app downloads originate, it is possible to identify and flag downloads that may have been generated using fake accounts or bots.
  2. Behavioral Analysis: By studying patterns of usage and engagement within any app, it is possible to identify and flag downloads that may be the result of fraudulent activities.
  3. Machine Learning: App stores and developers can use Machine Learning algorithms to detect fraudulent installs by training their algorithm with historical data and identifying patterns that are not consistent with organic installs
  4. User engagement: High spike in the number of downloads followed by low user engagement or retention rate can also indicate fake downloads.

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