Mobile Advertising is Booming in APAC While Efforts Increase to Combat Fraud

Mobile ad spending increased by almost 20% in the APAC region throughout 2019 — with forecasts predicting it will surpass over $106 billion in 2020. Although the mobile advertising market is thriving, APAC still suffers from high rates of fraud, as well as issues with viewability measurement. As an industry, we need to continue pushing each other to implement robust anti-fraud awareness programs and technologies throughout the region.

There are currently three significant programs having an impact on combating mobile and in-app advertising fraud and improving viewability measurement globally. Let’s explore how these are stacking up in the fast-growing APAC market.

Creating Trust Through TAG Certification 

The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) is having a positive impact on market quality across the digital advertising industry in both the US and Europe, but is this the same story across the APAC markets? 


Developed as a cross-industry program to increase transparency, combat malware, and prevent internet piracy, the TAG Certified Against Fraud seal aims to eliminate fraudulent traffic in digital advertising. 

Many key mobile advertising players have achieved TAG certification by implementing various requirements that include invalid traffic detection, IP blacklisting, and payment ID systems. 

Much of the drive for ad tech companies to achieve TAG certification comes from advertisers and DSPs who want assurances that they are working with trustworthy and accountable partners. In the APAC region, there is currently little drive from the demand-side to require TAG certification or an equivalent, so adoption rates for businesses are much lower than that of the US and Europe. 

That being said, the global nature of the programmatic advertising industry ensures that a large quantity of inventory is being served in APAC by TAG-certified companies from other regions. 


Verified Viewability With the Open Measurement SDK

Developed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the Open Measurement (OM) SDK offers open-source code that enables in-app publishers to integrate with multiple viewability vendors through one unified standard. Frustration throughout the industry over the lack of consistency when it comes to ad viewability measurement led to the development of this initiative. 

Some of the industry’s largest global players, including Google, have integrated the OM SDK into their in-app offerings. This is a big step in terms of providing advertisers with ad viewability verification on a large scale. In APAC, the OM SDK is also making headway. The region’s hottest publisher, ByteDance, has incorporated the initiative into their apps — a statement that will likely see other top players from the APAC supply-side follow suit.

Many leading mobile ad exchanges have also taken measures to ensure OM SDK compliance, and they serve vast proportions of APAC publisher inventory. The positive impact of the OM SDK is clear, and it will only continue to improve as players adopt the standard and work with compliant partners.

Full Transparency With App-Ads.Txt

Simple but highly effective, app-ads.txt was also developed by the IAB. Today, it is one of the most essential tools for combating advertising fraud. Publishers create a list of approved monetization partners and upload this text file in the root directory of their website (e.g.,, while also adding the website URL in the app store listings on Google Play and the App Store. Advertisers and DSPs can then access and crawl this file to ensure they are only purchasing inventory through authorized sellers.

Insights from Pixalate’s most recent report (Q3 2019) show that over 50% of the top 1,000 iOS and Android apps have implemented app-ads.txt. When publishers can mitigate spoofing and provide a transparent list of their approved vendors, they increase their revenue and allow advertisers to rest easy knowing exactly where their ad spending is going.

As in-app spending continues to increase, app-ads.txt will only grow in importance and increase in adoption rate, especially in APAC — thereby creating a more secure and protected programmatic ecosystem.

Playing a Part in Protecting the Marketplace

With the mobile advertising space developing rapidly, how can marketers contribute to improved market quality and continue to build a more trusted marketplace in the APAC region? 

One key recommendation is to work with partners who are committed to eliminating fraud and who have an anti-fraud certification from TAG. Advertisers should also regularly access app-ads.txt files to ensure that inventory is being purchased through approved sellers. They should also avoid inventory from publishers who haven’t implemented an app-ads.txt file on their website. Lastly, advertisers should either work with OM SDK-compliant publishers or exchanges that offer an OM-certified SDK. In doing so, they can be sure that the viewability of their ads is verified.

Publishers, advertisers, and everyone in between all play a role in creating a safe and trusted industry. Let’s keep pushing each other in the APAC region to implement these initiatives, so we continue to make mobile and in-app advertising a success for everyone involved.

Delynn Ho

Delynn Ho

Delynn is General Manager, APAC at Smaato

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