Commentary

Digital Advertising's 'Dark Little Secret' Has Had Its Time

Many in the digital ad industry believe the Media Rating Council (MRC) standard for viewability of 50% of an ad being in-view for one continuous second -- and two seconds for video ads -- is simply a starting point and not strong enough to elicit growth. In fact, some recent data suggests the viewability rates have actually regressed.

WebSpectator, a real-time ad exchange that uses its own “guaranteed time slot” metric to facilitate trading, wanted to improve upon the current standard. The company only charges advertisers if the ad is 100% in-view for 5, 10 or 20 seconds, depending on the type of campaign they are running. (For programmatic campaigns, it’s always 20 seconds.) WebSpectator’s metric is accredited by the MRC.

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“Digital advertising's dark little secret has been waste,” said Andre Parreira, founder and CEO of WebSpectator. “Although everyone -- publishers, advertisers, agencies -- knows [over] 50% of all impressions are not viewed by humans.”

“If only 45% of all online video ads are ‘viewable’ using the new ‘standard,’ imagine what the percentage would be with a more realistic standard -- like the ad must appear in its entirety,” commented Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics on a recent RTBlog reporting that viewability rates for video ads are currently below 50%.

WebSpectator’s new metric is catching on. According to Quantcast, WebSpectator is now the fifth largest U.S. ad network. The company claims its publisher network has grown 300% year-over-year, reaching over 430 million unique visitors per month globally. 

Although ad technology is key to pave the way to turn ‘time and attention’ into a new ad dimension, it is critical to have leading publishers share the same vision to unlock the opportunity for advertisers,” said Parreira. Some larger digital publishers, such as Forbes, Conde Nast and TMZ, have been using WebSpectator’s “guaranteed time slot” to monetize ad space.

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