Tag Archives: viewability

The coming controlled burn in online media

 

 

For a while it’s been clear than something has needed to change. The sheer amount of garbage inventory in online media has been both increasing and having an increasing amount of light shone upon it. It comes in many forms: outright fraudulent ads, poor creative ads selling for pennies, too many ads on a publisher site with no attention paid to placement or relevance, viewability – or lack thereof, and, in short, just way too much inventory in the market. In 2013, the last year for which I could find numbers, over 5 trillion ads were served worldwide, excluding Google Ad Words. That’s a lot of inventory.

For the industry to reach its next level of maturity and growth, there needs to be a reckoning. The analogy I’ve been using lately is that of a controlled burn and the cycle of fires that permit forests to grow. In order to move on there needs to be large, global effort to cut down on the sheer volume of ads, burn out the deadwood if you will,  and allow new ad formats to flourish, buyers to regain trust in ads, and show consumers that not all online ads are as terrible as the ones driving them in droves to install ad blockers.

Part of this work has recently been done by AppNexus who report some positive news regarding yield on ads once a house has been cleaned. The company claims that claimed that by eliminating bad traffic running through its platform has led to an increase in the price advertisers are willing to pay — a fact that has been in question until now. Earlier this year, a separate initiative from the ad tech platform seeing view through rates rocket by 77 per cent.

AppNexus has claimed this resulted in the average clickthrough rates (CTR) jumping 46 per cent compared to 12 months earlier, with publishers selling inventory via the platform also seeing a 255 per cent jump in average CPMs, according to the report.

So dynamic was the supply-and-demand effect that the average CPM rate hit an all-time high of $1.76 on 29 September (the average for the quarter was $0.64), with average CTR hitting 0.062 per cent, compared to 0.043 per cent 12 months earlier.

In addition, the implementation of AppNexus IQ has also seen the average viewability rate increase 77 per cent compared to 12 months earlier, although the average viewability rates on the platform remained below 50 per cent during the period.

Source: Traffic quality crackdown kicks off record price rise

Do viewable impressions actually present a bigger opportunity than threat?

Forest FireViewability, probably second the ‘native’, has been the hot topic in ad tech for at least a year. The issue, on its face, is a simple one: Advertisers want to only pay for online ads that at least have a chance, that is to say are in the viewable area of a device or browser, of being seen by the user. Once again we are hoisted (held accountable to) our petard (crowing about how we are the most measurable media). Obviously magazine advertisers are charged whether someone looks at the page or not — or even half the page for less than a second.

However, in the US alone this year ComScore predicts over 4 trillion online display ads will be served. Xaxis stated that it last year it paid more than $750M for more than 3 trillion ads. Woah. That’s a lot of ads and, if my math is right, it comes out to a CPM of $0.25. Not very impressive for the most measurable, fastest growing, and arguably most watched medium in history. Maybe it’s because advertisers already know that somewhere between 25% and 40% of those ads are never going to be seen by anyone. Now, granted, even at the higher end of that estimation, the adjusted price is still only $0.42 CPM. Now, if tomorrow all publishers were somehow magically able to remove all unviewed ads and advertisers began to pay only for ads that were ‘viewed’ would the advertisers agree to a 67% increase in rates for the pleasure? I guess the market would decide but I’m inclined to suggest that no. They would not.

However, there’s an opportunity for premium publishers here to clear out a lot of dead brush, refocus on the ad units on their pages, and not make the same mistakes as we enter the curvy bit of the hockey stick growth period for mobile. It definitely seems like creating a bit of scarcity in this market would be a good thing. Whether it’s fewer, bigger display ads, innovative mobile formats that aren’t just shoehorn solutions of display ads, or clever native units, I think there is the chance to retool how premium sites operate. This is, in my mind at least, a huge win for everyone in the ecosystem (except maybe display ad serving companies who make money on every ad served).

There’s a bigger, better post in here that needs to be written and I’ll give it the attention it deserves some day soon. However, I think that for now editors, ad sales teams, creatives, agencies, tech companies, and brands need to embrace the need for this clearing out and see it as the opportunity that it is. Like a huge forest fire, it’s scary to watch and sometimes seems like it’s going to destroy everything it touches, but ultimately it’s a net positive and indeed necessary for further growth.

From Digiday:

The biggest adjustment for publishers in the viewability era is the reality that they’ll be serving fewer impressions via the same pages, which in turn means they’ll be making less money per page … which is why many publishers are still wary of the short-term effects of viewability’s widespread adoption.

But viewability can also work in publishers’ favour, at least in theory. If there are fewer, more valuable viewable ads, publishers can pump up the CPMs on their viewable inventory to compensate for the hit they take on their overall impressions.

via Publishers grapple with viewability’s biggest issues | Digiday.

How to Fix Ad Fraud and Why Publishers Should Pay | DigitalNext – Advertising Age

Charlie Fiordalis, managing director-digital at Media Storm, makes a pretty blunt case for dropping the bill for fraud prevention on the publisher’s front door. I can sort of his point but his suggestion to publishers to look at it as a form of insurance leaves me a little bit uneasy. I’m not sure it’s as cut and dry a case as he puts forward.

Who pays?Why shouldn’t it be more even-handed across the industry with buyers putting pressure on pricing by not paying as much for blind, non-transparent inventory and paying more, i.e. rewarding, the behaviour they want. There must be a market force from the buy side that can be brought to bear on this issue. Further, I’d think that the lions share of the burden needs to sit with the networks (DSPs and SSPs) to vet the inventory they are managing. They’re the ones that are building billion dollar businesses here and there should be some costs involved in ensuring that what they are brokering is what it appears to be. Finally, the publishers, who it would be hard to say have been the big winners in the online ad revolution, for their part should bear some responsibility for keeping a ‘clean’ site and, in particular with regards to viewability, offer up the most desirable inventory to buyers.

…The buy side has operated with the assumption that we are getting what we have purchased. Ad fraud is a threat to that assumption, and I think the responsibility for direct payment should come from the publishers. There, I said it. Someone had to. I realize this may not be what the publishers want to hear, but they can look at it as a form of insurance on their side. —Charlie Fiordalis

How to Fix Ad Fraud and Why Publishers Should Pay | DigitalNext – Advertising Age.

Financial Times kicks off trials to sell advertisers ‘blocks of time’ to tackle industry’s viewability issue | The Drum

This is an interesting concept but sometimes it really feels like we take two steps forward and one step back in this industry. Our greatest strengths — measurability, laser-targeting, accountability — are also our greatest weaknesses.

“We can now report back to a client and say ‘we served you a thousand ads, and of those, 500 were seen for one second, 250 were seen for 10 seconds and 250 were seen for 30 seconds,” Slade went on. “The next obvious step is to sell blocks of time.

“We can sell a thousand hours of exposure to a chief executive audience in Germany, for example, or we can give clients 500 hours of exposure to finance directors in Belgium. That currency has a lot of merit.

via Financial Times kicks off trials to sell advertisers ‘blocks of time’ to tackle industry’s viewability issue | The Drum.