Commentary

Viewability's Visibility: A Problem, A PR Issue, A Joke

Viewability, unfortunately for online video publishers and advertisers, just keeps getting more and more visible. It’s the problem that just won’t go away, though, paradoxically, it’s a problem that is hard to see.

It also has become a marketing tool for competitors. At last week’s Fox Broadcasting upfront, Rob Lowe, now famous for his cable-tweaking commercials, did a compare/contrast between online advertising often not seen, and broadcasting advertising, where, advertisers are paying for ads that are really presented.

“So, you can buy crappy online video where you don't know what you're getting, or you can buy Fox's premium programming across platforms and get the full picture," Lowe said to advertisers.

A funny bit, but not so funny.

CMO Today reports that viewability remains a big problem when advertisers use ad exchanges where smaller sites sell ad space. That’s because, The Wall Street Journal’s Mike Shields reports: “Among the favorite tactics of ad fraudsters is to build bogus Web sites, flood them with traffic generated from computer programs known as bots, and then sell ads on these sites within ad exchanges. Most ad exchanges say they have made great efforts to inhibit the sale of such bogus ad inventory, but the practice persists.”

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Apparently, he reports, bogus sites know a big part of the industry is trying to catch them and so, while they invent ad views and placements, they also keep a little lid on it.  They don’t want to look--suspiciously--too good. So, this theory goes, independent ad trackers sometimes miss the clever scammers because they don’t build way too much positive attention.

TubeMogul and tracker Integral Ad Science issued a report last week  that showed some dimensions of the problem measured in an interesting way.

“Our ranking system was based on human, in-view completions, which represent an ad being viewable to a real person all the way to the end. Since this is what marketers value, we consider optimizing placements on human, in-view completion rate to be ‘correct’, the report said.  

“Using the methodology. . .  we saw that a marketer comparing placements on standard completion rate instead of human, in-view completion rate would make wrong optimization decisions nearly 40% of the time. Choosing the wrong placement would significantly impact a marketer’s goals. In the worst cases, placements with 90% completion rates turned out to have single-digit human, in-view completion rates.”

That’s horrible. The TubeMogul report says that “by assessing performance on cost per human, in-view completion, marketers could reduce advertising waste by up to 20%,” or even more.

TiVo NATION: Tom Rogers, the CEO of TiVo, has some interesting thoughts about the future of media, both on a Beet.TV video and a companion piece about it by Andy Plesser at Huffington Post.  Rogers’ basic point is that personalization of media--remember, jokingly, the magazine called Me with you on the cover?--is now more possible and likely than ever.

Rogers has been at the beginning of big things all of his career. He headed CNBC and MSNBC in their early years, then on to Primedia, before his current spot at TiVo, which is so old in the business it’s almost become a generic.

"We capture all that data and are able to put together a highly filtered dashboard of all the things you would care about in a world of infinite choice, filtered down to your personal choice and tastes,” he says, about modern digital media.  “Any time that you're interested in watching television ... the personalization of that experience will give you something complete control."

pj@mediapost.com

1 comment about "Viewability's Visibility: A Problem, A PR Issue, A Joke".
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  1. Benny Radjasa from Armonix Digital, Inc., May 19, 2015 at 2:42 p.m.

    PJ, as much as I agree with you on the visibility issue, and I have witness much of what you mentioned above.  However we should not publish data that could help fraudster evade detection or tweak their patterns for the better.   

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