Commentary

Should Ad Nets Push For Publisher Transparency?

Vieawbility and transparency are two of the biggest topics in the exchange-based marketplace today. My question is: Why don't more ad networks force their publishers to be transparent about viewability ratings?

I understand viewability is still a relatively "new" thing to the industry -- the first time it appeared in a MediaPost article was just about two years ago -- but wouldn't forcing transparency ultimately be beneficial for everyone? The publishers would be compelled to care more about their performance, and advertisers would know more about what they are buying.

In theory, it would cause more competition between all of the publishers in a respective ad network in regards to their viewability performance. On a larger scale, ad nets would then become competitive with one another. All the while, advertisers would be benefitting from having their ads been seen more, and publishers would be benefitting from increased prices.

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The topic came to my attention today when Gourmet Ads, a food advertising network with their own real-time bidding (RTB) exchange, did exactly what this blog is about. They are forcing the publishers in their network to be honest and keeping the advertisers informed at the same time.

I asked Benjamin Christie, Gourmet Ads' founder and president, if other ad networks provide that type of open insight into the viewability performance of their publishers.

"I'm not aware of any that do, but am cautious to say, 'World first!' as I'm not aware of all publisher systems that are out there," he said.

"Why don't other ad networks do that?" I asked Christie. "It would seem to make sense to me."

"Agreed, but I can't talk for others!" he said.

So I tracked down Craig Simmons, product and strategy operations manager at Exponential Interactive, an ad tech provider for brands in digital media, to see what he thought on the subject. I asked him to argue for and against ad nets pushing for transparency when it comes to viewability.

RTM Daily: Why would it be smart of ad nets to push viewability?

Craig Simmons: It seems that the industry, albeit slowly, is moving toward viewable impressions as the new currency. Ad networks should consider encouraging their publisher partners to optimize on viewable impressions to provide ad networks with the ability to charge higher CPMs for their viewable inventory. As long as the incremental revenue from the increased CPMs offsets the loss in revenue from the non-viewable impressions, publishers stand to benefit.

RTMD: Why would ad nets not want to push viewability?

Simmons: Change can be scary and disruptive. Encouraging publishers to embrace viewability could have them focusing on ad networks that continue to pay on the traditional CPM. Ad networks must also worry about the potential impact to scale either by losing, or intentionally dropping, pubs with low viewability.

1 comment about "Should Ad Nets Push For Publisher Transparency?".
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  1. Alan James Edwards from RealVu, November 7, 2013 at 4:46 p.m.

    I agree, however the real root of the transparency issue is the blind, or cross domain iFrame. Ad nets and publishers need to use friendly iFrames, period. Until there is a clear path from the buyer to the parent document where the ad is ultimately rendered, online advertising will be woefully deficient; unable to provide the transparency, quality and reliability that discerning advertisers need.

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