Friday, August 14, 2015

Discovering The Right Viewability Metrics For Brands To Focus On

Discovering The Right Viewability Metrics For Brands To Focus On

Aug 13, 2015 
Elliot Hirsch  |

Insights from Elliot Hirsch, CEO and Founder AdYapper
When I meet with people who work for brands, particularly media buyers and brand managers, they often assure me that they have viewability covered because they have mandated to their agency to maximize viewable impressions. They may have even set a threshold, like the 70% proposed by the IAB or even 100%, which is in vogue right now.
Just because it’s the type of person I am, I usually ask them what their agency is actually doing with that mandate. This is generally where the conversation breaks down. At best, the agency reports partner by partner what the in-view percentage is to reach some kind of average viewability that is acceptable to the brand. But from there, the media buying process can contain a number of issues that can be draining money from the media budget. By shifting focus to more valuable metrics than “percent in-view”, brands can regain some of their media value.
Focus On Publisher Performance First, Viewability Second
It makes me crazy when media buyers drop a website from a media plan just because their percentage of viewable impressions falls below a certain threshold. This might sound counter-intuitive coming from someone who runs a viewability company, but to me, it shows that they’re using good metrics in a bad way. If the only thing that actually matters to a brand is if an ad is viewable or not, then it’s fine to use viewability as a black or white metric. But that’s almost never the case. Brand advertisers need to drive value for their company, and some publisher sites that have a high percentage of non-viewable ads have also proven to have a high level of engagement or even conversion.
Any good media buyer can tell you that if you can measure something beyond the click, you’d never punish a high performing publisher for a low click through rate. The same goes for viewability. If they are performing well, then by all means keep them on the plan. If you can negotiate for better viewability later and increase performance even further, so much the better.

Look at Time In View
I’ve been on countless websites that show me rotating ads that last just long enough to meet the 1 second in-view standard set by the IAB. A website might be showing great in-view percentages but may actually have terrible “time in view metrics”, a factor that we’ve seen matters quite a bit for driving real return on investment. Studies show that, while someone might notice an ad in a split second, if they are exposed to the ad for much longer the message becomes more and more effective. Advertisers should ask their agencies and partners for a website’s average ad time in view to determine if sites have simply replaced non-viewable ads with barely viewable ads compared to sites that offer a real chance for customer engagement.

Ask for Frequency Metrics
At this point, good publishers have done a lot to eliminate bots from their inventory. However, there are plenty of companies represented on exchanges and ad networks who slip under the radar by creating fraudulent “viewable” impressions on real computers at very high frequencies. The easiest way to find these bad apples is through frequency metrics. In a given day, a normal person may encounter your ad a few times. However, we see time and time again that a few websites will report “people” who have seen an ad anywhere from dozens to thousands of times in a day. Even if it were a real person, there is no way that these ads are actually being seen. Getting granular with frequency metrics is the only way to weed these issues out.
With the right measurement model, there can be truth in viewability
Everyone from media buyers to trading desks to publishers are compensated based on how much volume they can deliver for a brand. This is why publishers game the system with bots and non-viewable ads, why aggregators keep bad publishers in the rotation and why media buyers are hesitant to cut too much from the media plan. In other words, the problems start at the top – with the way the brand compensates everyone in the digital advertising ecosystem.
If brands reward their media team and partners for volume, then they need to learn to live with the performance issues it produces. When the only viewability metric being reported is percent in-view, the ecosystem can continue to operate based on this volume game. But by focusing on the metrics that can actually drive higher quality, brands can cut the dead weight and start to see the returns they deserve from their media budget.

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