SINGAPORE: As digital advertising expenditure grows across Asia, marketers ought to be concerned about ad fraud and the waste that entails, but too many are looking at the wrong metrics, industry figures have said.

"In this region, brands still focus predominantly on clicks as metrics, which greatly contributes to fraud," according to Grace Liau, general manager/Asia-Pacific at Vivaki, the ad tech business.

And until clients start to understand this, she told Campaign Asia-Pacific, "combating the problem will be a downhill [sic] battle because the desire and demand for clicks over conversion or other success factors is creating an environment in which this sort of fraud can thrive".

She claimed that in some markets, like Thailand and India, actual click-through rates were only one tenth of those reported.

Henry Stokes, Asia-Pacific vice president of client development at Xaxis, concurred that clients were at fault but added that media vendors also had a role to play, as many were quite aware of what was happening but choosing to turn a blind eye to meet client wishes.

"Even when clients are advised otherwise, they still stick to pricing, buying metrics and KPIs that actively encourage media vendors towards fraudulent activity," he explained.

"Until clients start demanding for third-party ad serving and heeding the advice to set KPIs beyond click metrics or response campaigns … fraud is just too easy and advertisers will continue to pay for it," he stated.

The problem is compounded by up to half of media budgets being placed incorrectly, according to George Patten, managing director and global lead for media management at consulting firm Accenture.

"Unless this is reported – and it often is not – then all pricing related to digital, such as CPC and CPT, could be … 50% more expensive than the client believes it to be," he said.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff