The views ranged from not being worried to kind of always suspecting that was the case to the one that surprised me the most -- it's down to us to plan better campaigns. The most incisive answer came, as you might expect, from MoneySupermarket.com. It has built it own in-house programmatic trading desk for several reasons, including getting a better idea of whether it was buying media that actually had the possibility to be seen. Their take on the figures was that it wasn't a great surprise, might prompt more brands to go direct to market, and at the very least, might kickstart more conversations to get viewability measurement standardised and viewability rates increased.
The irony, of course, is that we already have a metric for viewability, provided by the IAB -- which requires only half of an ad's pixels to be seen for a second for it to be considered viewable. So the metric is already there, and let's face it, it's not the most onerous requirement, is it?
I know I blogged about this just a few days ago, and I wasn't going to touch it again for a while, but I can't be the only person in UK digital marketing thinking that brands should be seething with anger about this. Or am I?
Taking last year's near GBP2bn digital display market in the UK, according to IAB and PwC figures, that would mean roughly GBP1bn -- yes, that's a billion pounds, went to advertisements that weren't served in a position where they could be viewed.
I had always assumed that brands were a lot more concerned about this than the views expressed to The Drum would suggest. How can they be resigned to collectively flushing so much budget down the proverbial sink? This is made all the more pressing when you consider that so few people click on advertisements today that display has pretty much become the preserve of branding. How can you know, then, that you're raising awareness if you don't know your messages stand a chance of being seen?
It's a time for predictions, so here's one from me. If 2015 doesn't see more brands follow in MoneySupermarket's footsteps, I'll be very surprised. A brand can't solve the issue singlehandedly but it can at least decide which technology it uses to validate its media spend ,and it can also ensure its choice of ad shapes and bidding strategy maximise its chances of being seen.
Another prediction will be that in general, this whole issue is taken a whole lot more seriously. When there was a belief, albeit a hopeful one, that display had a direct response element to it, the problem wasn't so obvious because people were looking for click-throughs. Now that the realisation has dawned that display is about branding and budgets are devoted to being seen rather than clicked on, marketers will need to be shown that their ads have been viewable.
That they are not more vocal in their disappointment, even when it's come to a point where more than half the media they buy isn't viewable, will continue to surprise me well into next year too.