Dissecting mobile offerwall advertisements: an explorative study

Xu Xu, Yangyu Hu, Qian Guo, Ren He, Li Li, Guoai Xu, Zhihui Han, Haoyu Wang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearch


Mobile advertising has become the most popular monetizing way in the Android app ecosystem. Offerwall, as a new form of mobile ads, has been widely adopted by apps, and a number of ad networks have provided such services. Although new to the ecosystem, offerwall ads have been criticized for being aggressive, and the contents disseminated are prone to security issues. However, to date, our community has not proposed any studies to dissect such issues related to offerwall ads. To this end, we present the first work to fill this gap. Specifically, we first develop a robust approach to identify apps that have embedded with offerwall ads. Then, we apply the tool to 10K apps and experimentally discover 312 offerwall apps. We go one step further to characterize them from several aspects, including security issues. Our observation reveals that offerwall ads could indeed be manipulated by hackers to fulfill malicious purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2020 IEEE 20th International Conference on Software Quality, Reliability, and Security, QRS 2020
EditorsChristof Budnik, Mei Nagappan, W.K. Chan
Place of PublicationPiscataway NJ USA
PublisherIEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781728189130
ISBN (Print)9781728189147
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
EventIEEE International Conference on Software Quality, Reliability and Security 2020 - Virtual, Macau, China
Duration: 11 Dec 202014 Dec 2020
Conference number: 20th
https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/conhome/9282732/proceeding (Proceedings)
https://qrs20.techconf.org/ (Website)


ConferenceIEEE International Conference on Software Quality, Reliability and Security 2020
Abbreviated titleQRS 2020
Internet address


  • Android
  • Malware
  • Mobile Advertising
  • Offerwall
  • Pay-per Install

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