Now, this is sort of incomprehensible to me, considering I’ve said that I think the MRC guidelines could actually benefit from being stronger, and I know I’m not the only one. But apparently, there are folks in the agency world who are concerned. They think they won't get scale if they insist upon 100% viewability, which leaves me to wonder: They do realize that non-viewable ads aren't adding to the scale of anything other than their spreadsheets, right?
When I think more about it, I see where 100%-viewability critics are coming from, though I still don’t agree with them. The ad industry is addicted to fraud. As I’ve stated before, low quality and fraudulent impressions depress the price of quality content. It makes us all look good on the surface, because it juices up everybody’s numbers, and makes it look like there are eyeballs out there that there simply aren’t. We’re effectively covering our ears and screaming “EARMUFFS!” when anyone tells us that this isn’t actually sustainable, and that it isn’t actually helping brands achieve their goals.
The article in The Information brings up a very good point: The ad industry is complex. And it’s confusing. “[T]he highly fragmented nature of online advertising doesn’t lend itself to getting definitive answers,” Dotan writes. “Between the multiple ad exchanges that can occasionally serve a single piece of inventory and differences among browsers, a report from one type of ad measurement software can vary wildly from another. Adding in the difficult-to-track world of mobile advertising makes the problem even more complicated.”
But if making beneficial changes in our industry was easy, we’d have done it already. Whenever there’s some new kind of regulation or guideline anywhere, whether it’s regarding our car inspections or our curbside trash pickups, we kind of freak out at first. Setting a benchmark for ad viewability is no different, really.
It’ll take effort to achieve those seemingly lofty goals of 100%-viewable ads, but it’s worth it. The viewability problem is getting worse, which has a ripple effect on the entire ecosystem because it impacts supply and demand. “It won’t scale?” Just an excuse.