Phone Farms and Ad Fraud

Abisola Tanzako | Apr 12, 2023

The internet has kept on growing non-stop. Billions of humans spend hours daily on the internet, but so do millions of non-humans, such as bots and mobile phones.

Phone farms and phone farming have become increasingly popular over the last few years. The concept of phone farming involves individuals using multiple phones simultaneously to watch movie and video game trailers and click on ads. This creates false engagements as there is no one behind these screens.

Phone farmers run these phones 24/7 and earn pennies on each ad or video watched. Phone farmers claim to use phone farming as a side hustle, making a few more dollars for groceries, diapers, and child care.

Farmers purchase cheap Android phones (2 phones and up) from eBay and set them up in their houses, running simultaneously non-stop. They use various apps and software that provide videos and ads that farmers must watch or simulate click activity to earn from them.

Phone Farms Vs. Click Farms

Phone farms are small-scale and run by a few people in their living rooms or basements. They are mainly set up as a passive income scheme made possible by exploiting multiple mobile incentive programs. The average phone farmer earns between $50 – $100 per month with about 20 phones.

Click farms, on the other hand, can be run as a company providing a range of digital engagement services or as an individual corporation to multiply clicks for various objectives. They are usually paid a predetermined amount to perform the same activity repeatedly.

They are operated on a much larger scale, with thousands of employees and billions of daily clicks, impressions, and engagements.

While phone farms use multiple phones to carry out automated activities simultaneously, click farms have low-paid employees who click on numerous ads or links daily.

Phone farms and Click fraud.

Although phone farms do not emphasize on ads and impressions, like click farms, there is still a small amount of click fraud associated with phone farming. Any ad-clicking activity without the intention to purchase is termed click fraud. Phone farmers click on ads just for the pennies they can earn and have no business with the advertisers or the business they run. Many phone farmers ignore click and ad fraud; they are simply in it for the money. 

Are Phone Farms Legal?

Because Incentivised attention (paying people for their attention) is legal, several apps and businesses have created models that pay viewers to watch their videos, visit their websites, and engage. Phone farmers leverage the advertising and marketing industry’s dependence on consumer attention to earning a living. 

However, phone farms are notorious for violating the terms of the apps they use to make money by simulating clicks and other activities, which can be illegal. Still, these apps do not pay any attention to this type of fraud.

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