Viewability The Next Battle As Brands Eye Programmatic

Ad fraud is a big problem in digital advertising, but the optimist will say, “Hey, at least they are working on it.”

That’s more or less what Brian Wieser, senior analyst at Pivotal Research Group, wrote in a recent report.

Portraying it as “a cynic’s optimistic view” of online ad fraud and waste, Wieser wrote: “It’s important to note that solutions to the problem are becoming increasingly prominent,” which echoes what RTBlog noted on Friday.

We’ve heard that fraud is a series of battles in a never-ending war; that it can be abated but not vanquished.

The next battle is on the horizon, and it centers around viewability. (Yes, viewability has been an issue for some time now, but the industry has been hyper-focused on it the past six months.)

Thanks to the Media Rating Council’s lift of its viewability-as-a-currency advisory, in-view ads are now center stage. They will become even more significant once viewable-only ad exchanges for video advertising crop up. Why? Because digital video advertising is supposedly where brand dollars will come online in a programmatic fashion.

However, the true “gateway” to brand dollars being spent via programmatic may be a simple case of follow the leader. The Kellogg Company was a leader in programmatic buying, getting “serious” about it back in 2011, but we’ve seen some other brands get “serious” about it themselves more recently.

For example, American Express wants to spend as close to 100% of its online ad budget via programmatic as it can. There's also Procter & Gamble, which wants spend 70% to 75% of its U.S. digital media via programmatic by the end of 2014, per Advertising Age.

I had a recent conversation with Ben Plomion, VP of marketing at Chango, who believes these recent news items have “brought more conversation around programmatic” and branding. AmEx is very DR-centric (direct response), said Plomion, but P&G’s news was “a little different because it shifted the discussion to more than just DR.” He said Chango has seen more marketers ask about branding via programmatic ever since the P&G news.

If the digital ad industry doesn't clean up its offering, however, brands like P&G may rethink spending big via programmatic.

"Eye" picture from Shutterstock.

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