While the latest ad figures show marketers are ploughing more and more of their budgets into mobile, new research claims some thousands of malicious Android and iOs apps are spewing out rapidly-reloading ads which operate even when the apps are not in use.
Researchers Mike Andrews, Antoni Kolev, David Sendroff, and Matt Vella, from New York firm Forensiq say the apps display 20 ads a minute, or 700 an hour. By comparison, legitimate apps serve an ad every one to two minutes.
The ads eat up to 2GB a day per mobile device and affect a potential 15% of apps and will will cost advertisers more than $857m (£559m) in 2015.
The report states: “Fraudulent apps were observed selling traffic through most major ad exchanges and networks. These apps would establish on average 1,100 connections per minute and communicate with 320 ad networks, ad servers, exchanges and data providers in the course of an hour.
“Based on the traffic we observed, we estimate that mobile device hijacking will cost advertisers more than $857m in 2015 … we project that the annual impact of in-app fraud will surpass the $1bn (£640m) mark globally in 2015.”
The financial impact to advertisers this year is mind-boggling; those operating on the Android platform stand to lose an $480m (£306m), those on iOS will $363m (£232m), while Windows Mobile will haemorrhage some $14m (£8.9m).
The team says the advertising technique is undetectable by antivirus and bears similarities to the way botnets operate.
Bot ad fraud to cost $6bn in 2015
Online giants join ad safety plan
New scheme tackles web ad fraud
ISBA fights grizly ad placements
Data sparks rise in real-time ads
Clients on dark over online buying
Are marketers dazzled by digital?
Does digital measurement stack up?