Popular digital advertising platforms proclaim they can help brands reach their target consumers online with the right message at the right time. These platforms appeal to marketers because they can target ads at specific demographics and audiences in real time.
However, many who trumpet them do not address one important question; does anyone actually see these ads?
According to recent research by Comscore, 54% of advertising delivered goes unseen. One of the reasons is that some ads are buried low down on web pages or run in tiny, easily ignored video players. Additionally, they may be run simultaneously with other ads.
Unfortunately marketers may not know that their ads have been missed – this will depend on whether they are working with a transparent partner and how their vendor mix reports and claims campaign engagement. Some marketers will simply be presented with a spreadsheet showing ads that have run and nothing more.
Marketers need to demand full transparency into where media buyers are placing their ads, in what context and how they are measuring actions. This will help them understand not only whether their ads have actually been viewed but it also helps to defeat fraud – an issue of increasing concern courtesy of bots programmed to rack up impressions.
To achieve transparency, Susan Bidel, senior analyst at Forrester, believes viewability will become the standard for brand-focused display advertising. According to the recently published IAB standards, viewability measures whether an ad was served where the user had the opportunity to view and is defined as 50% of the ad unit being in the user’s viewable screen for at least one second.
However, moving from an impression served to an impressions viewable currency is a big step that impacts media planning, vendor selection and attribution modelling. The below three steps will help you get started on implementing this viewability standard:
1) Understand how viewability is measured: The most widely used measurement method – the geometric method – uses the position of the ad unit relative to the browser window to discern whether an ad is viewable. So for example, if an ad banner is placed at the top of a Web page but a viewer has scrolled down to the bottom – the ad will not be in-view and therefore does not engage.
2) Evaluate your vendor mix by understanding the value of each viewable engagement: The vCPM method measures the value of vendors’ engagement. This takes the CPM and divides it by the vendor viewability rate, calculated using the geometric method. For example, if one vendor is costed at £5.50 per CPM and is in view 65% of the time, their vCPM is equal to £8.46.
3) Planning is the key: A great place to start using viewability as a standard measurement is to factor it into any upcoming media plans and then discuss the results with the measurement provider and media buying partners. Also, ensure your programmatic marketing provider can integrate or partner with the best in the market ahead of time. If you do this you will be provided the highest levels of impression quality for each media buy.
Martin Brown is UK managing director of DataXu