How Will We Get to 100% Viewability? Hint: Don’t Settle

State of the Industry

Viewability is already in the hot seat in 2015. Leading up to this year, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released a paper on viewability principles for 2015. Currently, the Media Rating Council (MRC) defines viewability as “50 percent of pixels of an ad unit remains viewable for a minimum of one second for display and 50 percent of pixels in view for a minimum of two seconds for video.” While 50 percent in-view is a start, this standard is way too low, potentially eroding advertiser confidence in our industry.

Industry organizations need to come together to determine a higher standard or prepare to face the reality of advertisers only paying for what they determine as in-view. In the meantime, advertisers should continue to demand higher viewability and publishers should start building ad formats that are 100 percent in-view by design. What’s a programmatic native ad with related content really worth if it’s not in view? Ask 10 buyers and they will all agree – not a lot.

Partner With Viewability Vendors

Whether the IAB, ANA, 4A’s, or the MRC set viewability standards at 50 percent or 80 percent, the fact remains: buyers and publishers reap the most benefits when they achieve close to 100 percent viewability. However, the industry may not be ready to put a stake in the ground to come out and say 100 percent or bust – due to several environment factors such as uniform testing capabilities, new formats, or custom placements that may not be captured as viewable by the leading viewability vendors. Let us all remember, though, unmeasureable does not mean unviewable. If you are confident that your ads are viewable, then the first thing you should do is work with viewability vendors to create verification tests. Yes, this takes time, but is well worth it in the long run. In the meantime, if you have a phenomenal ad unit that’s viewable by human eyes, you can prove to the brand the correlation between viewability and ad performance. Run A/B tests with your ad units vs. standard IAB.

Evolving From Punch The Monkey

After more than a decade of punch the monkey, belly fat ads, and retargeting with zero frequency caps, we owe it to the industry to set higher standards. If the industry settles for substandard ad formats, then we should expect to receive sub-standard credit and remuneration. Each of us should re-evaluate our viewability benchmarks if we want the industry to evolve. The days of delivering a campaign that was served more than 80 percent below the fold with a miraculous 0.5 percent click-through rate are over and everyone knows it, including Google. Google recently revealed that 50 percent of display ads are not viewable. If the Internet’s powerhouse registers viewability at 50 percent, we should all be concerned.

The entire industry is demanding better ad products – ads that are relevant, impactful, programmatic, and yes, in-view. Readers understand that ads support the content they love and accept them if ads are done right.

Brands Are Leading

Brands are leading the charge; they want higher performance and want to work with quality publishers. They are no longer settling for underperformance or un-vetted publishers. Their agencies have been tasked with solving the issue directly – whether it be through complicated make-good pricing structures, only paying for viewed impressions, and specific third-party vendors. This route seems like it will be painful for all parties. The fact remains that that there is definitely a correlation of viewability and ad performance. The closer an ad unit gets to 100 percent, the higher the click-through rates, conversion rates, and most importantly, the happier the brand. Simply put – underperforming ads equal a waste of ad spend, which brings little benefit to anyone.

Ready to Get Started?

The more the industry thinks that 100 percent viewability is impossible, the longer it will take for us to achieve the goal. As a buyer, start by testing new ad formats and don’t rely on just standard IAB. Run small tests to see how they perform. Work with networks and publishers that are partnering with viewability vendors to verify viewability of your campaigns. Don’t settle for just 50 percent viewability or even ads that remain in view for one measly second. Look for smarter ads from reputable partners that remain in view for longer and perform at better rates.

Talk to your programmatic partners; these are the folks that have insights into high-performing, highly viewable ad units. They can guide you on what partners are delivering phenomenal results. Lastly, set your own standards and don’t settle. Get the most out of your media spend and aim for higher performance in 2015.

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