SINGAPORE: Industry figures in Asia are in broad agreement with recent reports which have highlighted the growth of ad fraud and ad blocking in the region although some have taken issue with the accuracy of the figures cited.

The World Federation of Advertisers warned that ad fraud could be worth $50bn a year by 2020 and Miranda Dimopoulos, chief executive of the Interactive Advertising Bureau Singapore, accepted that click fraud is a growing problem in Southeast Asia.

"In Asia, clients are focused, and often rewarded, on clicks as an indicator of campaign success and this is why clicks drive tremendous fraud traffic," she told the Straits Times.

"Publishers and brands are losing money," she added. And she pointed to their reluctance to invest in appropriate counter-measures as a major factor.

"Forensics and third-party verification are seen to be an additional and expensive cost," Dimopoulos noted.

She advised advertisers to look beyond clicks and compare what's happening there with other metrics such as return visits, conversions and time spent on site.

"If a traffic pattern doesn't match consumer behaviour on your website, then this is a huge red flag," she stated.

Pagefair recently suggested that the Asia-Pacific region contained 55% of the world's smartphone users, but accounted for 93% of ad-blocking browser usage.

RP Singh, regional head of media at VML Southeast Asia and India, agreed that ad blocking has become a growing concern, but he told Campaign Asia-Pacific he had some concerns over the different methodologies adopted by the various companies reporting on the issue.

"As a media practitioner I would also like to see what kind of ads are blocked the most and which industry is facing this issue the most," he added. "My guess is that gaming and tech companies are the worst hit because of this phenomenon."

And Ranga Somanathan, Southeast Asia COO for Starcom, observed that the number of devices having an ad-blocking browser was not necessarily the same as the number of devices actually blocking ads.

"If we look at the mobile advertising inventory available to marketers, the numbers are growing in double digits on an annual basis," he said. "With advertising inventory increasing, it contradicts with the scale of ad blocking in the region."

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