What Viewability Means For Publishers Today

Viewability has been touted as the buzzword of 2015, but the truth is that the digital media industry is just starting to tackle the issues surrounding viewability, and will for years to come.

Even as the Media Rating Council (MRC) and The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) have weighed in on acceptable measurements and standards, brands and agencies like Unilever and Group M are pushing for even more stringent requirements.

Video viewability in particular is quickly evolving, with the MRC announcing its first initial standards in June 2014 and Google announcing its own video viewability reporting at CES this year. There are several technologies that provide advertisers insights into the performance and viewability of their campaigns, but tools built for publishers lag behind.



This means that publishers feel the pinch as brands put stricter viewability requirements on campaigns. As publishers aim to provide the best possible experience for both consumer and advertiser, they simply don’t have all the tools they need to successfully meet these new standards. In order to truly address and improve viewability across the industry, more technology needs to be put in the hands of publishers to empower them to grow, control and maximize the value of their video inventory.

To address video viewability, publishers first have to provide enough video supply to meet increasing advertiser demand. This is easier said than done: New York Times CEO Mark Thompson is on record saying, “We are currently leaving money on the table because we don’t yet have enough video-advertising opportunities to sell,” showing that even upper-echelon publishers understand this current constraint on growing video revenue.

Though publishers acknowledge this need for more video inventory, they also know that creating that content can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. Still, providing content that consumers actually want to watch is a key part of higher viewability metrics.

Publishers need ways to access video inventory that complements the content already on their sites. Syndicated video content is a good start for publishers that don’t have the time or resources to pour into producing original video, but technology providers need to work to make incorporating this content easier.

Technology must do a better job of identifying appropriate video content that corresponds to the context of the page. As a starting point, natural language processing (NLP) technology can be applied to both the content of a publisher page and to the metadata/transcripts contained within a video itself, in order to understand the targetable context of a particular piece of content.

Accessing video supply that seamlessly integrates with the topics already appearing on a particular site allows publishers to provide their visitors with editorially friendly syndicated content. This will increase video views and viewability metrics.

While advertisers can target based on demographics and geographic locations to reach their desired audiences, publishers can also use targeting in smarter ways to package and serve their supply.

To address viewability requirements on certain campaigns, publishers should identify ways to target readers who have a higher probability of seeing a video ad or opportunity. Publishers can target users with a higher “probabilistic viewability rating” to campaigns with high viewability requirements. This will not only drive up viewability metrics for specific campaigns, but will drive higher revenue by allowing publishers to optimize campaigns with lower viewability requirements.

Achieving lofty viewability goals will take time and some investment, but advertisers will reward publishers who have committed to higher viewability standards.

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