News

POV: Display Viewability

MINDSHARE POINT OF VIEW - A group of US industry bodies today opened the gates for agencies and clients to start buying online ad-impressions based on the number of viewable impressions served.

Viewability has fast become the hottest topic in digital display as the industry tackles the need to understand who ads are being served to (in-audience) and whether those users can actually see them (in-view). Rising online budgets also means accountability is increasingly important. In response, a range of technology companies have released products to determine in-view and in-audience ratios, and 11 of these have now been audited & approved by the MRC.

Background.  A group of US industry bodies today opened the gates for agencies and clients to start buying online ad-impressions based on the number of viewable impressions served. Viewability has fast become the hottest topic in digital display as the industry tackles the need to understand who ads are being served to (in-audience) and whether those users can actually see them (in-view). Rising online budgets also means accountability is increasingly important. In response, a range of technology companies have released products to determine in-view and in-audience ratios, and 11 of these have now been audited & approved by the MRC.

Details/Implications. Viewability products use technology to assess whether or not a display ad is actually visible by a user, i.e. actually on the portion of the screen being viewed at any time. Associated products such as OCR & vCE also assess whether the users viewing the ads are within a target demographic. Global research from comScore has suggested that ads bought through exchanges have an average in-view rate of up to 30%; those bought directly from publishers of around 50-60%.

The MRC has now released a standard definition of what counts as in-view: 50% of pixels viewed for 1 second or more (2 seconds for video). Reasons ads may not be in view by a user are that the user leaves the page before it loads, the user doesn’t scroll down to an ad, or scrolls past it, or the ad may be called when a bot (a program mimicking a user) visits a page. The rise in fraudulent sites driving ‘bot traffic’ is increasing and although there are no perfect solutions the industry is taking steps to fight them, e.g., most viewability products include ad-blocking.

There is a desire for data on in-view & in-audience to be served in real time. To that end both the main ad-servers (Sizmek & DoubleClick) now include viewability products providing in-view data, whilst the in-audience products of comScore and Nielsen are now built into DoubleClick and Sizmek respectively. Analyzing viewability in real time will allow agencies and clients to optimize campaigns as live, improving effectiveness and efficiency.

Although the US is ahead of the world in the uptake and implementation of such practices, other markets are fast catching up. The technologies are now widely available, and generally reasonably priced, whilst there is a definite desire to see them used effectively. Whether Nielsen or comScore, Sizmek or DoubleClick products are deployed, we at Mindshare are determined to drive transparency, effectiveness and brand safety. Whilst some publishers are nervous about a move to only pay for in-audience and in-view ads, it is in the interests of clients and agencies to work collaboratively, not against their media partners and there is the obvious opportunity for publishers to use high viewability scores to differentiate their offering.

Summary.  In the US where viewability is more progressed, brand-focused campaigns now account for 36% of spend. That number will continue to rise, particularly as more TVC shifts to online video, such as Facebook’s new video ads, which have viewability built in.  Such developments should be seen as opportunities for all parts of the industry to benefit, rather than a chance to beat publishers down on cost, and the smart clients and agencies will do exactly that. A full FAQ can be found here: http://www.iab.net/3msfaq.