Viewability became an official currency for digital ad trading earlier this year, with many advertisers following the Media Rating Council’s (MRC) standard of "viewable" of 50% of an ad being in-view for one continuous second (or two continuous seconds in the case of video ads). However, not all in the industry feel the standard is enough, and some companies are attempting to take matters into their own hands.
It’s hard to blame them. After all, marketers are not likely to be thrilled about viewability’s faltering rates, which are literally going backward. Recent data from Integral Ad Science indicates that nearly two-thirds of non-direct ad inventory is not viewable, down from about 50% at the start of the year.
Trion Interactive, a video and mobile display ad platform, has crafted its own definition of viewable, at least for video ads. Al Shermer, co-founder and CEO of Trion, told Real-Time Daily that the company only charges if a video ad is 100% in-view for its entire duration.
To accomplish this, the company created its own video player that scrolls with the consumer -- it sits on top of the browser rather than in a fixed location. In essence, Trion’s player doesn’t allow consumers to scroll away from the video ad. They either close out of it or watch it all: there is no in-between.
“We say if your ad is not in-view 100% of the time, it doesn’t count as an impression,” said Rich Commodore, VP of Trion. He said the company has been playing with the idea of a fully viewable impression for about six months. The company has not moved into the real-time bidding (RTB) space with its new tech, but it is used for “programmatic direct” deals, Shermer said.
It is the ultimate value proposition. For advertisers, it’s an all-or-nothing deal. For consumers, it puts advertisements front and center, reminding them that large portions of the Internet run on ads when the consumers would perhaps forget about that fact altogether. “Banner blindness” wasn’t coined for nothing.
However, according to Commodore, consumers don't seem too peeved. “One might think it would be intrusive to the user experience overall,” he said. ”But what we find is our click-through rates and time on screen are higher, so that bounce rate you think might happen, doesn’t happen.” In the case of video ads, it’s reasonable to assume that many consumers understand -- or have at the very least been conditioned to accept -- the value proposition.
Trion is not the first company to tout mandatory viewability, nor will it be the last. In fact, I took this space just one month ago to highlight Clearstream’s new tech that forces consumers to watch pre-roll video ads.
I’m not yet sure what to make of mandatory viewability tech. Perhaps it’s too lofty a standard -- not necessarily for marketers, but for consumers. (Or maybe it is too much for advertisers; there is a lot of ground between 50% of the ad being in-view for just two seconds and 100% of the ad being in-view for its entire duration, after all.)
But the tech is out there, it is being used, and if we are to take the tech providers at their word, it is producing solid results without alienating consumers. At the very least, it’s interesting to see the various ways marketers are attempting to solve the viewability puzzle, which has grown increasingly complex despite its basis in a simple question: “Did the consumer see my ad?”