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Gavin BuxtonVice President of Sales for Asia-PacificS4M (Success for Mobile)
Gavin Buxton, vice president of sales for Asia-Pacific at mobile native ad technology firm S4M (Success for Mobile), is responsible for setting up and leading the firm’s expansion in the region. He spoke with eMarketer’s David Green about the differences between the mobile programmatic landscape in Asia-Pacific and in other regions, and how industry stakeholders can advance metrics to drive greater value and counter ad fraud.
eMarketer: S4M ran a global study that uncovered some interesting statistics about mobile usage—notably that 48% of mobile users click, but never arrive, on a landing page. Is that percentage different when it comes to Asia-Pacific?
Gavin Buxton: Where we see the difference is on actual rendered impressions, and pages that were 100% loaded on the mobile webpage and mobile app, [plus 1 second]. The global position on qualified landings for mobile visits is about 52%. In Asia-Pacific, it’s more like 70%. That could be because of fat thumbs or accidental clicks. Or [it could be because] sites are not mobile-optimized, and it’s just going to take too long for content to download [due to] connection speeds.
eMarketer: So that’s almost three out of four clicks that aren’t arriving in Asia-Pacific. And this isn’t the result of fraudulent actions?
Buxton: Fraud is an element. When it comes to impressions and clicks, they are the easiest to get in the system, and [fraudsters] have experience in doing so. That’s why as a model we [look at] human interactions. With the metrics we work with, it makes it a lot harder for them to do that, and it’s certainly not an area they’re going to focus on as readily, because there’s easier prey out there.
eMarketer: You mentioned in a piece you wrote that the lack of a cohesive standards body active in Asia-Pacific, something like the Media Rating Council (MRC), is an issue for the market. Who do you think will be a leader in establishing programmatic standards, and how do you see this developing in the future?
Buxton: I believe it’s a collective responsibility. No one can operate in isolation. There are some legacy challenges, and people are in different stages of understanding that. Going forward, we feel there are definitely industry bodies that can take a strong position. The [Interactive Advertising Bureau Singapore] IAB Singapore is establishing a benchmark on viewability in Southeast Asia—taking a roundtable with agencies, publishers and tech vendors so that there can be an open discussion about the challenges.
From the tech side, [they would need to get] certified with the right metrics. From a buyer’s perspective, they would need to understand what those challenges are, and ensure that they’re buying with certification partners. From a publisher perspective, they would need to investigate how they understand the audiences that are visiting their site.
When it comes to invalid traffic, some of that can be accidental—because of algorithms or search. It’s publishers’ responsibility to understand that, and look to eradicate it, or not put it into what they’re selling.
Facebook and Google should be held accountable for, [and doing], independent verification. Google has been accepting of that in some, if not all, areas and Facebook is starting to step up—but also not in all areas.
Outside of those two players, I think it’s the responsibility of publishers—understanding if they have challenges, cleaning up their own inventory and insisting on certain metrics.
eMarketer: In China, it can be difficult for new players to gain access to some of the more tightly held programmatic direct inventory because of the need to build close relationships with large publishers. As a relatively new entrant to Asia-Pacific, have you encountered any similar challenges?
Buxton: There are a lot of global players coming into play in Southeast Asia, as well as local players. We haven’t had an issue in terms of getting access to inventory when it comes to open exchanges. And as publishers are coming into them, they’re opening up their inventory.
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