BEIJING, Sept. 9, 2020
BEIJING, Sept. 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Recently, questions have been raised about how Mintegral's SDK collects data and claims credit for installs. Mintegral's ad serving practices have been misclassified as fraud when, in practice, the ad optimization algorithms are considering engagement with ads shown in the app (regardless of the source of the ad) as additional signals, for serving follow-up ads the user is more likely to engage with. This is widely used by many SDKs, such as ad networks, publishers, security companies, etc., and a practice that Mintegral implemented as, in the past, it was considered best practice for targeting.
Mintegral uses ad engagements to show better ads
Mintegral has been accused of collecting click data in order to claim credit for app installs over another ad network's click. Mintegral has collected URLs accessed by users, the data points referred to as "click data", but does not, and have never used this data for click hijacking. Mintegral use this for optimizing its own ads, and to yield better results for their developers.
Knowing which ads have more engagement is valuable information when serving ads. It helps developers get more relevant ads to show, which is the very purpose of an ad provider. The information below will detail how ads are shown, how Mintegral uses the data collected, the results of its analysis into the rate of secondary clicks, and why Mintegral's ad technology is so good at driving these clicks (with no fraud involved).
Mintegral also protected its SDK, with various technologies, against reverse engineering. Different protections of this nature are common in the industry, as providers strive to develop unique strategies for targeting and gain a competitive advantage.
To underline this and further show complete transparency to customers and partners into data collection practices, Mintegral has also recently announced it will be open-sourcing the Mintegral SDK.
 A secondary click is a click on an ad which had a previous click, where the user did not convert.
How ads are shown
An important differentiator Mintegral ad serving technology has, compared to others, is the ability to show multiple dynamic ads in one placement, in real-time. This greatly increases targeting ability and the efficiency of every impression shown in a placement. The system would recommend different groups of ads for every user, according to the context of each request and additional engagement signals. This new technology increases click rates and may introduce differences in many metrics, including secondary clicks between Mintegral and others, as it is unique to Mintegral.
The data collected
Besides showing the ads themselves, a core function of the Mintegral SDK is to power better ad recommendations, through collecting engagement data related to the users & ads. The data points collected are:
The collection of the above data is 100% compliant with all rules set out by both Apple and Google, as well as privacy regulations.
How ad engagement data is used
The collected ad engagement data points were to assess the potential of different ads, regardless of the source they come from. For example, if ads for strategy games are getting more actions and clicks, Mintegral can show ads from the same category when requested. Collecting this data benefits both the developers, who could rely on a supply of well-chosen ads, as well as the users, who saw more ads they were happy to engage with.
Analysis of secondary clicks
After the allegations surfaced, although Mintegral knew with certainty that click hijacking was not occurring, Mintegral immediately started an internal assessment of the rate of secondary clicks. This was done to obtain a more specific figure and evaluate the accuracy of the figures called into question. Mintegral's findings were very different than those alleged.
With the help of several attribution partners and customers, Mintegral found that, on average, <7% of app installs attributed to Mintegral had previous clicks from another network. Another way of saying this is that 93%+ of Mintegral installs are direct, so stopping these campaigns would mean a direct decrease in total installs. If this were fraud, the installs would not decrease and just get attributed elsewhere. This level is also 3-4x lower than the one specified in the allegations and can be explained by factors that were a standard part of Mintegral's ad distribution, which is detailed below.
Single Day Total
% Secondary Click
Mintegral analyzed the click patterns in traffic from 10 advertisers on its platform, who agreed to share their data. Doing this, it found a broad range of secondary click rates, between 0.05% and 12.26%. This shows significant differences between campaigns, rather than a consistent, predictable pattern. This broad range of differences indicates that this rate is not purposefully created but occurs organically as part of regular ad distribution.
Why ads & clicks can repeat
There are many valid reasons why multiple clicks for the same ad can occur. Some of the most common are:
Further showing this to be the case, Mintegral can see a similar pattern from one major network, in data obtained from one of their top clients. This simply demonstrates what Mintegral believes to be a very common scenario in the ads industry.
Potential technical factors adding to this data pattern are:
Ad engagements are removed from the new SDK
To put partners and users at ease, Mintegral has decided to simply remove these signals from their collection process. The open-source SDK being released will not contain these data points, and Mintegral will not collect them moving forward. Mintegral also stopped using these signals in the optimization process entirely, as soon as the allegations were published.
This conversation has fueled Mintegral's resolve to make advertising practices even more transparent, fully open-source its SDK, and put its support behind an initiative to advance the entire industry towards more open, and fair data practices.