Asia’s mobile metrics need to mature

For the first time ever, the Asia Pacific region is overtaking the US in digital ad spend.

Today, there are over 2.5 billion mobile phone users in APAC - that’s 62.5 per cent of the region’s population. Digital ad spend is slated to grow 18.2 per cent this year - led largely by China - reaching US$59.7 billion. For some perspective, growth in the US is nearly half that at 9.6 per cent.

Mobile programmatic is driving the uptick, but the threat of ad fraud is still a hindrance to explosive growth, sitting as a weight on the region’s shoulders. Compared to the US and the UK, there is a lack of standardised rules in the region, in fact, six out of ten of the countries in Apsalar’s click fraud index are from Asia.

Ad fraud is not a new issue limited to mobile, it has been a legacy challenge that has carried over from desktop into mobile.

As audiences embrace digital channels, the vast amount of content available to them has always been a blessing and a curse for advertisers. Digital allowed brands to gain a greater understanding of consumer behaviour beyond the main media channels, yet it has simultaneously fragmented the audience through different devices and platforms, making them harder to reach.

Ad networks attempted to address this fragmentation challenge by replicating mainstream media into contextually categorised digital equivalents, however in doing so opened the door to bulk, cheap and potentially fraudulent traffic.

The vicious cycle carried over into today’s intricate mobile ecosystem - throw automated buying into the mix - and you’ve got headlines citing US$4.5 billion in losses globally from invalid traffic.

With tracking technologies evolving and addressing mobile directly, it creates a significant opportunity for brands to both understand mobile consumers behaviours for better insights and targeting, but also see how the consumer is interacting with their media and brand sites or apps.

As a mobile-first region, Asia needs to embrace this opportunity and define real industry standards to thrive.

The digital industry is familiar with buying models based on CPMs and CPCs, and evaluating impressions, clicks and click through rates as an indication of campaign delivery and success. However, these metrics only swipe the surface of the data and insights that can be tracked within mobile. Advertisers should be insisting on partners that track two sets of data, firstly, creative delivery and engagement and secondly, post-click metrics highlighting the user journey on the brand's mobile web or app.

Creative delivery metrics ensure advertisers that they are buying beyond ad requests and they should insist on receiving 100% rendered ad impressions. Putting in place engagement metrics, such as dwell time and interactions, then allow advertisers to see if they truly have thumb stopping creative and provide actionable insights to save on ad spending whilst also eliminating intrusive user experiences.

The challenge does not stop here. Enticing user engagement is only the start of the journey to evaluating true campaign success. Advertisers should be evaluating the user experience of their own brand site or app by tracking post-click metrics, such as landing rate, on site actions, etc. Without these insights, advertisers cannot be sure if they are receiving genuine audiences or how each creative and target group has performed and optimise towards success.

Brands need to look for programmatic partners that are able to offer guarantees on deliverables and valid, reliable and effective post-click metrics that allow for true campaign optimisation.

Brands have the power to curb ad fraud by insisting on better metrics that truly qualify their mobile campaign objectives. As investments rise, the stakes are higher and it is far more important than ever before that advertisers gain transparency and confidence on their mobile campaign ROIs.

To offer greater value, agencies and suppliers need to first lay out what a ‘conversion’ means to their brands, and define what success looks like in a mobile campaign.

As an industry in APAC, all the stakeholders should focus on providing analytics for:

  • Rendered impressions
  • Fully loaded landing pages
  • Active installs
  • App opens
  • Post landing actions

Brands, agencies, and suppliers need to put the user first, eliminate vague measurements, and raise the standards in the industry. This will ultimately curb the loss of ad spending due to fraud issues and ensure high quality experiences for the end-users. Without advertiser confidence and user acceptance, it will be hard for the mobile advertising industry to continue this accelerated growth in the region.

Gavin Buxton is vice president of sales at S4M APAC. He can be found tweeting at @GavBuxton.

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