Ad fraud Report by FraudScore: outcomes and aftermath of 2021

17 February 2022
Reading: 5 min

Click the link to get your copy of FraudScore’s Ad Fraud Report.

The new year of 2021 looked promising for the ad industry. Global online ad market suffered only a 1.5% fall in 2020 — after all the virus measures and global isolation. Compared with the other industries, it means that online advertising is stable. And it will keep attracting money. 

Let’s look at the results of 2021, and learn more about ad fraud — a real problem, a crime that is draining money from advertisers’ pockets, and draining trust from the whole affiliate market industry. 

The report is done by FraudScore — the independent anti-fraud solution. FraudScore has been fighting against ad fraudsters since 2016, and is trusted by the industry leaders all over the world. FraudScore analyzes traffic for CPA, CPI, CPM, CPL and CPC campaigns. All customers of FraudScore are global companies, and the statistics represented in the report are relevant for global ad fraud situation. The report is based on the global ad traffic processed by FraudScore’s fraud prevention and detection platform in 2021.

International forecasts say that global ad market value reached $771 billion in 2021. Global ad spend surpassed the figures of 2020 by 23% — reaching up to $295 in 2021. In 2021 an average global user spent at least 4.8 hours on his mobile phone every day. And 64% of global users made at least one purchase directly from a social network. 

The money is huge, and the industry keeps growing. The more users go online, and spend their time browsing the web — the more opportunities open for bad guys. 

All traffic

  • According to FraudScore’s statistics — 34.8% of global ad traffic was fraudulent in 2021.
  • Top-3 fraud GEOs are: China, Russia&CIS, EU 
    • China 41,56%
    • Russia & CIS 37.06%
    • EU 34,30%
  • The highest amount of ad fraud was detected in Autumn 2021 — the mid-season sales period — average 30.1%
  • The most detected ad fraud types were: Proxy fraud (bot traffic of any kind), IP anomalies and Blacklist.
    • Proxy fraud is keeping the leading position as one of the top three most detected ad fraud types for four years in a row.
    • The majority of proxy fraud is coming from Russia&CIS, and US&CA. 
    • IP anomalies and Blacklisted IP are used by fraudsters in China and EU the most.
    • Attribution fraud is coming mostly from India and China — the trend that continues from the end of 2020.


  • Mobile traffic had 32.8% of ad fraud
  • The top three ad fraud GEOs in 2021 were: China, APAC, Russia&CIS
    • China 43,7%
    • APAC 42,23%
    • Russia & CIS 35.43%
  • The highest amount of ad fraud was detected in September, 2021 — 33%
  • In 2021 we saw that bots were still in the leading positions as they were in 2020. Botnets and bot farms, adware and emulators were leading mobile ad fraud categories in 2021.
  • Android — 25.2% of fraud in traffic. 
    • The most fraudulent app categories were Games —  52% of detected ad fraud, Health & Fitness — 48.3%, Tools & Productivity Apps had 45.4%. 
    • Also, these were very popular apps among users — the growth of Health apps installations was one of the most noticeable. And so fraudsters went for the users in these apps.
  • iOS broke a record —  for the first time in FraudScore’s history of reports and observations — iOS had more ad fraud than Android — 27.9%. 
    • The top three fraudulent app categories in 2021 were Health & Sports — 42.6%, Games — 39.4%, and Entertainment & Hobby — 38.5%


  • Web traffic had 27.4% of ad fraud in 2021
  • The top three ad fraud GEOs were: US&CA, EU, Russia&CIS
    • US/CA 22.4%
    • EU 21,7%
    • Russia & CIS 18.1%
  • The highest amount of fraud in desktop traffic was detected in December, 2021 — 35.2%. 
  • The most detected ad fraud types were the same as in 2020 — Proxy Fraud, Blacklist and IP anomalies. Although till the end of 2021 Blacklist fraud had the highest speed of growth among all detected ad fraud types in desktop.
  • The last three months of 2021 showed a constant growth in the amount of detected web fraud. Fraudsters used proxies to trick advertisers, exploited fake devices, stole data of real users, and used blacklisted IPs to get advertisers’ money.


It is highly likely that the majority of tendencies from 2021 (and 2020 as well) will continue to rise and shine in 2022. Bots, malware, botnets, attribution fraud (including click spamming and click injection) will be the most threatening means of stealing ad budgets. 

But it is worth noting that global tendencies for recognizing the problem of ad fraud on the governmental level will lead to the changes on the ad market. At the moment — only one in five advertisers recognize the issue of ad fraud. But the more protection advertisers get — the harder it will be to steal from them. Fraudsters already are coming up with more new approaches and technologies to exploit malicious schemes. And data from 2021 revealed that bad guys are combining new threats with well-known efforts. So the question of having an antifraud tool becomes more and more vital.

Get your full version of FraudScore’s ad fraud report here, and learn the detailed statistics and outcomes of 2021. You can ask your question to FraudScore’s team via Or feel free to apply for a demo, and get your 14-days free trial of the whole system.

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