Commentary

AppNexus, Varick Share Thoughts On Viewability Via Twitter Chat

Late last week MediaPost Editor-in-Chief Joe Mandese took part in a viewability chat -- aptly named #viewabilitychat -- on Twitter. 

The chat featured questions asked by Varick Media Management, with a handful of industry players -- including Jim Caruso of Varick and Ben Lewis of AppNexus -- participating. 

The questions:

  • How would you define viewability?
  • What are the main concerns surrounding viewability (or lack of) in programmatic advertising?
  • What can marketers do to avoid running into the issues surrounding viewability?
  • How can clients be better educated to understand the different viewability solutions being offered in the marketplace?
  • What should marketers be looking for in the right tools and partners for viewability measurement?
  • How can increased viewability create value for the entire programmatic ecosystem?
  • Do you see a universal solution to the viewability problem in the near future?
  • Do you think marketers are afraid to address viewability out of fear that it will impact performance?

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There are too many tweet-answers to all of those questions to fit into this space -- you’re best off just viewing the whole viewability chat string -- but the participants made some interesting points. Notably, the participants were in agreement that a viewability standard needs to be agreed upon and that quick fixes to viewability rates could lead to troubles down the road.

“By tightening the standards you may have fewer biddable impressions,” acknowledged Mandese, ”but they will be worth much more.” 

Lewis agreed, tweeting: “Less ads for more money, and a better experience for users browsing the sites.”

Caruso responded by saying, “Initially they will be wroth more, but [I] wonder if that’s sustainable if it doesn’t drive dramatic increase in ROI.”

The “better user experience” topic was brought up at the recent Programmatic Insider Summit in Tahoe, Calif., where panelists debated whether or not some publishers -- which went unnamed -- were hurting themselves by optimizing only for viewability. This approach results in Web pages that bombard users with ads.

“It’s interesting to see publishers rearrange ad placements on their pages to make [them] more viewable,” tweeted Lewis. 

This might be a short-term fix that leads to even more long-term problems. Right now, publishers are incentivized to rearrange ad placements to get better viewability rates because that’s what marketers are willing to pay for. But what unintended consequences are lurking?

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