BEIJING: AdMaster, a Chinese marketing technology firm, released a white paper last year that highlighted the scale of digital ad fraud in China and now two leading executives from the company have warned that the problem is getting worse.

Calvin Chan, Chief Operating Officer at AdMaster, and Peiyu Ren, the company's VP of Products, told eMarketer in an interview that the proportion of invalid traffic had risen to 38.7% of total digital advertising by the end of December last year.

That compared to 28.9% in January 2016, the figure highlighted in AdMaster's 2016 Digital Advertising Anti Ad-fraud White Paper, which was published in September.

According to Ren, AdMaster screens invalid traffic across four categories – abnormalities of frequency, source and behaviour as well as unstable users.

By these measures, the company found that vertical media, rather than online TV platforms, have the worst levels of invalid traffic because many publishers only accept image-tag tracking and don't allow third-party verification.

Media focusing on the verticals of women, mothers and babies as well as automative perform particularly badly in this regard, Ren said.

"Some organisations use scripts in a program or automated task software to simulate users’ behaviour – such as opening a website, viewing or clicking an ad in a website or app," he explained.

He added that one of the problems in China is that mobile devices are so cheap, which helps unscrupulous companies to buy thousands of them and then change the device ID to take control and generate ad traffic.

When asked what are the biggest challenges to overcome in China when it comes to building a trustworthy advertising ecosystem, Ren said that it's very important to create an industry standard and to improve the transparency of data.

Both he and Chan welcomed the well-publicised demands by Procter & Gamble for better practice in the industry, although they said marketers in China are beginning to work towards developing higher standards.

On viewability, for example, Chan pointed to the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) China and the China Media Assessment Council (CMAC), China's version of the Media Rating Council, and both organisations have been working closely with the MRC and the Interactive Advertising Bureau in the US.

"The final product is probably going to be based on the experience and the standards in the US generated by the IAB, the MRC and the MMA, or even the Trustworthy Accountability Group," he said.

Data sourced from eMarketer; additional content by WARC staff