Fraudsters are faking GPS signals for proximity ads

GPS data is more accurate and more reliable than IP data, yet only 14% of proximity adverts use these high-quality signals. That’s according to an analysis of more than 500 million digital location targeted impressions by location intelligence company Location Sciences.

Following the introduction of new privacy regulations including the GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), Location Sciences is warning that high-quality location data is more endangered than ever.

The Media Rating Council is very clear that IP signals shouldn’t be used for proximity targeting. Arguably hot spots and fixed IPs can be used as a good call on location, but most IP signals are estimates or proxies for the location. The key for brands will be having transparency on these work arounds used by suppliers and a method of evaluating the strengths of these signals.

Jason Smith, CBO, Location Sciences

Demand for GPS fuelling fraud

As more brands turn their attention to the quality of location data, bad actors are faking GPS signals in the bid stream. According to Location Sciences analysis, the three most detected types of fraudulent signals that brands should be aware of include:

  • Randomly generated (63%): A random set of GPS signals generated by a computer in any given area
  • Device teleportation (35%): Where the same device ID is spotted in two different places at nearly the same time
  • Hard clustering (10%): Location signals are distributed far too evenly over the area, rather than being clustered around major cities

Privacy regulations and operating system updates such as iOS13 are fantastic for consumers – but they have made it increasingly difficult for ad tech to access location data. This leads to more fraudulent signals on the market. Third party verification is a way to gain transparency into the quality of your location data, and to discover the suppliers delivering greater quality signals.

Mark Slade, CEO, Location Sciences