Sovrn Tells Buyers To Bring Their Own Standards To New 'Viewability Assurance' Program

Supply-side platform (SSP) sovrn on Monday announced it will begin guaranteeing viewability to ad-buyers “regardless of whatever viewability standard they require.”

The industry’s adopted standard comes from the Media Rating Council (MRC), which calls for at least 50% of an ad’s pixels to be in-view for at least one second (or two seconds for video ads). Some marketers have taken it upon themselves to boost that standard.

Sovrn has tapped Integral Ad Science, an MRC-accredited viewability measurement vendor, to serve as gatekeeper of the new program, which sovrn is calling the “viewability assurance program.” Sovrn notes that advertisers will be able to use any other MRC-accredited viewability vendor of their choice if they wish, but Integral is the default.

In short, advertisers will only be charged if “viewability” is achieved -- with whatever “viewability” means to them. According to sovrn, it’s as close to an unbridled offer as it gets. If an advertiser comes to sovrn with an outlandish “standard” that will rarely, if ever, be met in a bid to take advantage of the guarantee, sovrn will still try to work with them -- not that they expect this kind of approach to be taken.

If an advertiser comes to us with that kind of standard, we'd work with them by aligning inventory we believe would hit that standard,” a sovrn representative said to Real-Time Daily. “We would not ask payment for any subsequent impressions that don't meet the advertiser's standard.”

“We believe that most advertisers will gravitate towards established viewablity standards, such as the MRC's recommendations,” the rep added. “For us, we're working in good faith to marry advertisers' justifiable concerns with the interests of independent publishers.”

If, for example, an advertiser wants 100% of their ads’ pixels to be in-view for at least 15 seconds, sovrn will use Deal ID “to provide them only with that inventory we believe would hit the standard,” the rep said. If the standard isn’t met, the advertiser doesn’t pay for it.

All of the transactions in sovrn’s “viewability assurance” program will be carried out via Deal ID -- which provides a way of calling out pre-negotiated deals in a biddable environment -- or on a direct basis.

These types of viewability guarantees have been cropping up in recent months. Xaxis, WPP’s programmatic media-buying arm, unveiled a similar program for its APAC clients last month. A handful of other ad tech companies have been making comparable promises all year long, and now sovrn has punched its ticket and joined the party as well.

“Guaranteeing” viewability is a good way for marketers to get around the problem of viewability -- and it is a problem. Integral’s most recent quarterly report, which examined Q2 2015 data, found that only 44% of digital display ads were viewable.

Other companies are trying to find different ways around the problem. Altitude Digital, an SSP for video advertising, last week announced that it will now filter ads that have a higher probability of being viewable before the bid even occurs.

Heading in to 2015 -- which was deemed a "year of transition" for viewability by the IAB -- viewability was the top concern among marketers. The ongoing race to provide the industry with workarounds indicates that with 2015 nearly three-quarters of the way through, viewability is still top-of-mind -- and certainly not out of sight.
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1 comment about " Sovrn Tells Buyers To Bring Their Own Standards To New 'Viewability Assurance' Program".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics, September 21, 2015 at 9:22 a.m.

    Sounds fine but the real question arises about CPM pricing and what digital sellers will try to charge "per hit" when an advertiser insists on direct comparability with legacy media---100% viewability. If digital sellers try to "penalize" such overly "demanding" buyers by hiking their rates, so as to maintain their ad revenue growth, they may find that many buyers just won't bite. Then what?After all, there's always good old TV to rely on.