Despite its promise as a
superior display ad metric, “viewability” remains a touchy subject among publishers and advertisers.
According to comScore, only about half of display ads are viewable, and
worse yet, the Media Rating Council recently deemed the technology for tracking ad “viewability” unfit for industry use.
In some case, publishers and advertisers are
ditching ad networks altogether.
“The lack of a clear definition of what a valid impression is led us to move away from working with ad networks and to create our own in-house
demand-side platform,” said Erica Bigley, Ford and Lincoln digital media manager for the Ford Motor Company, commenting on Forrester's report on viewability. “We want to know where
we’re running and that we’re spending efficiently and effectively.”
The problem is cutting into display ad spending. Per Forrester’s latest estimates, brand
marketers’ share of display ad spend has declined from a peak of 48% in 2006. It has been stalled at about 31% to 33% for the past three years, and Forrester believes it will fall to 27% by 2018
if nothing occurs to alter this trend.
That dipping trend has not been lost on the industry’s governing bodies.
The American Association of Advertising Agencies and the
Association of National Advertisers, along with the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the Newspaper Association of America and the Online Publishers Association, have laid out broad plans to address
display advertising’s decline.
“The most likely standard -- covering desktop, mobile Web, and social -- defines a viewable display ad as one where 50% of the ad’s pixels
appeared in a viewable space and, therefore, had the opportunity to be seen by a human being for at least one second,” according to Susan Bidel, a senior analyst at Forrester and lead author of
its new viewability report.
An accreditation process or viewability measurement vendors -- conducted by the Media Rating Council -- is expected to ease fears of bias and unethical behavior
surrounding the new standards.
In late April, Google announced that it has received approval from the MRC for its new viewability measurement solution, Active View.
“Because Google is a key player in the digital ad serving market, with an estimated 60% of all publishers working with DoubleClick, this will ensure a rapid and substantial adoption of the new
viewability standards across the display ads ecosystem,” Bidel explained.
With the implementation of the viewability standards, GRPs will become the de facto currency for display ads,
which is consistent with measurement standards accepted across the majority of advertising platforms.
But the issue won’t end there, according to Bidel. “Publishers will have to
spend on new technologies to accommodate the new viewability standard.”