The Battle for Viewable Impressions
Submitted by Wed, 07/11/2012 - 10:47on
With the likes of ComScore and, most importantly, Google wading waist deep into the murky depths of viewable ad impressions, it marks the inextricable rise of the viewable ad impression metric (CPMv) towards being the de facto form of measurement for online advertising. This move shouldn’t be under estimated in its impact - this is a game changer. Viewable impressions will ultimately usurp the humble standard impression metric as the means by which a whole industry trades its media.
For a long time now the metrics which underpin the measurement of online media have been lorded and loathed in equal measure. Online media provides us with a wealth of data and an associated plethora of metrics, but are they the right metrics? I’m talking specifically about clicks and impressions, the core metrics of the industry. The issue being that they are not efficient in measuring the effectiveness of the brand message to the users. The recently published studies have shown that up to 93% of impressions are never seen. This makes for an incredibly strong case for the relatively simple shift to a viewable impression metric.
There will now commence the battle for the ownership of the viewable ad metric high ground. Marketers have already started to fire off the initial salvos with the inclusion of “viewable impressions only” in their RFPs terms. The agencies are employing buy-side tracking solutions from the likes of DoubleVerify and AdSafe, which can detect whether or not an ad has been shown in the active browser window, and then only paying publishers based on the buyer’s numbers.
These “viewable only” campaigns are going to be hugely disruptive to publishers. The viewable RFPs are proving very difficult for publisher to respond to as publishers are not set up to deliver on this basis and typically have no idea what percentage of their impressions are viewable. Without this data, it is near on impossible to price and deliver the campaigns without serious side-effects.
At this point in time the initiative appears to be very much with the buy-side. The large agency groups can start to use some of their sheer heft to impose their view of the world upon the viewable ad space, dictating that publishers fall into line behind their metrics. The onus of reconciliation will fall on the publishers to adhere to the delivery stats supplied to them by the ad agencies, not in real-time, but after the fact.
However this is not all doom and gloom for publishers. In fact, I believe the premium publishers, with quality engaging content, long dwell times and limited number of ads per page, will benefit. They will be able to differentiate themselves from the mass of low engagement sites which have poor impression view ability, but where buyers battle to see through the murky CPM metric. This is a great thing for premium publishers, especially when considering all publishers are currently faced with CPM erosion and the tide of lower engaged, cheaper, aggregated social content, which is flooding the market.
With viewable ad impressions being the next paradigm, what do publishers need to do ensure that they are not left behind? Four things stand out:
- Put in the technology to measure their current viewable impression ratios across different parts of your site. This will show how big (or small) a hill there is to climb. 80% viewable is a good place to be, 20% will mean some serious reorganisation.
- Optimise their sites to drive up visibility; - for example retire low visibility units, anchor the right hand navigation to ensure that one or more units are always in view, load all pages at the bottom (so everyone needs to scroll up to the content).
- Build an inventory and pricing strategy around CPMv. This should include a communication plan to buyers, showing them the commercial differences of using the new metric and so avoiding price change issues.
- Implement the technology to deliver campaigns based on CPMv.
The move to viewable impressions will ultimately be good for the industry. Advertisers will have their ads actually seen, helping them to shift more budget online; agencies will be able to target and price media more effectively based on whether or not their client’s messages have been seen; and premium publishers with quality content will be able to differentiate themselves more effectively to increase their online revenues. This makes the viewable impression a no-brainer.
"In today’s world, marketers and advertisers persistently seek out new and innovative ways in which to interact with the user. Whilst the typical smart phone or tablet user desires fast processing, high data speeds and well-designed operating systems, they expect high quality pictures and video playback.”
Gerhard Swart,Digital Acquisition Services