Yahoo Allows Advertisers to Independently Validate Viewability and Fraud

In order to provide more transparency to its clients, Yahoo is providing independent viewability and fraud measurement for display and video advertising on its owned and operated properties, as well as media purchased across its programmatic buying platform.

As viewablity hovers at around 50 percent, brands increasingly want to check publishers’ math with third-party measurement companies, but many major industry players like Google and Facebook don’t give them that flexibility. Yahoo is the first premium digital publisher to provide open third-party measurement across its platform. In order to offer these figures, the company is partnering with third-party measurement companies that align with guidelines for measurement set by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Media Rating Council (MRC), including comScore, DoubleVerify, Integral Ad Science, and Moat, among others. Advertisers running campaigns with Yahoo can choose from a variety of measurement solutions provided by those accredited third-party measurement companies.

Dennis Buchheim, vice president of product management for Yahoo, tells ClickZ that the move towards more open measurement is about giving advertisers better options and greater control.

“There is growing demand from marketers to have greater transparency into ad viewability and traffic fraud. They also want control over how it is measured to allow them to better compare performance across publishers and ensure appropriate return on advertising spend, brand safety and ad effectiveness,” Buchheim says. “As the programmatic industry continues to grow and mature, we felt the timing was right to provide advertisers with independent viewability and fraud measurement.”

Viewability is a big concern for the industry. This past May, Google’s video viewability report revealed that the average viewability of video ads across the Web,not including YouTube, is only about 54 percent. In December of last year, Google’s display viewability report showed that 56.1 percent of all the impressions served on the Google display platforms could never have been actually seen. With so many ads going unseen, many brands are refusing to work with publishers who refuse to provide transparency around viewablity and fraud. For example, at the Association of Media Advertisers Media Leadership Conference last March, Kellogg’s announced that it refused to invest in YouTube until Google allowed third party viewablity measurements. So Yahoo’s move toward transparency could actually attract advertising from bigger brands, according to Brian Mandelbaum, chief executive officer (CEO) of Clearstream, a Chicago-based video advertising platform.

“Yahoo’s announcement today is an important move for the industry, because brands like Kellogg already said that there’s a need for third-party verification,” says Mandelbaum. “If you are a brand, you really don’t want to have an external party to tell you what they believe your ad impression is and make money on that impression. Instead, you want an audit and verification. I think going forward, Google and Facebook will start to open up as well.”

For the time being, the industry standard for viewability is somewhere between 35 to 40 percent. Mandelbaum believes that technology is going to have to catch up to demand before those numbers see a significant increase.

“100 percent viewability could be feasible in the future, but it cannot be an overnight transition,” says Mandelbaum. “There are some technical issues. For example, the variety of browsers and devices may create a hiccup in reporting the data. But it’s critical for the industry to understand how Yahoo can develop a technology to improve the metric that is being reported by third-party measurement companies.”

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