Do Publishers Have A Clear View Of Viewability?

We recently surveyed comScore’s top 250 publishers to get a sense of their attitudes and readiness regarding viewability. The survey, which came on the heels of our “Viewable Vendor Report,” documented (among other things) the high level of importance agencies, brands and many of you assign to the viewability metric.


It was startling, to say the least, to learn that some 83 percent of publishers claim to be educated on the issue, yet only about 50 percent said they planned on preparing to sell viewable impressions. That is a jaw-dropping delta between viewability perception and reality.

The reason? Small demand. Publishers say that only 25 percent of the RFPs they receive ask for viewability as a core objective.

So, let’s assume it’s okay for publishers to walk away — permanently — from a quarter of all business that comes their way. Of course, to be fair, it takes some effort to implement and report on viewable impressions. But that’s their call.

The real issue is basing a decision about a hot topic like viewability on last year’s paltry demand. If publishers are doing so, then they need to go back and do some homework. True, viewability may be a requirement in just 25 percent of current campaigns, but that’s about to change — quickly and permanently.

Advertisers have been clamoring for viewability ever since it was reported that up to 50 percent of the ads they pay for are never seen. To them, viewability isn’t a nice-to-have option, but a sign of fair play — and many say they won’t consider purchasing non-viewability inventory once all the pieces are in place. The Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) Bob Liodice has been very vocal about viewability being the linchpin for marketers to embrace digital more enthusiastically. It makes sense, but it’s also going to require a great deal of work to get there.

There are a number of players that have been involved in bringing viewability into reality. In 2011, the Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) program created by the ANA, 4As and IAB launched a huge initiative to propose standards for metrics and advertising currency — and viewability is chief among them.

In addition, numerous technology providers have amped-up their viewability offering and integrated it with a host of other offerings the brands value. Meanwhile, 3MS has tapped into numerous brands and agencies to invest time and dollars behind pilot testing.  The 3MS principals brought the Media Rating Council (MRC) on board to take on a governance role when it comes to implementing this major shift in digital media transactional currency.

Why the wait? Many digital advertising leaders have stated viewability demands accreditation; the methodologies need to be verified by a third-party in order for brands to trade significant ad spend on viewability. The MRC has been working on it along with other 3MS stakeholders; but for a variety of reasons, it has taken longer than expected. As a result, advertisers are holding back on demand. Once all the pieces are in place, the lackluster 25 percent anomaly cited above will grow significantly higher.

As a leading buyer told me at the end of last year, “We agree with the 4As, ANA and IAB that all inventory buys should be based on viewability, and we’re buying inventory based on the standard today. We’ve written the standard into our contracts, and now, it’s just a matter of updating the existing agreements with our clients and vendors. As soon as the MRC gives the go-ahead, viewability will be part of our standard requirements.”

The bottom line: if you haven’t begun the groundwork yet, it isn’t too late. Turn to the 3MS principals at the 4As, ANA, IAB and MRC to get the information you need to get your operations in order. Ensure your sales team has all its bases covered with the tools and messaging they need to sell against viewability at the turn of dime. Moreover, get ready for a milestone that will propel digital advertising to new heights – and make sure you are prepared to benefit from this industry-wide shift.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Display Advertising | Display Advertising | Display Advertising Column


About The Author: is a thought leader in the digital marketing industry. His venture, global digital solutions firm The 614 Group, enables results-driven client marketing efforts in the practice areas of content monetization and revenue strategy, brand safety, technology and digital systems integration, and corporate strategy.

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  • Ephraim Bander

    Excellent insights on where the market place is heading short term.

    Long term is another story. Not too long either.

    While “viewability”, or potential to be seen is an improvement, the next step, which is available now, quietly changing the digital ad world, is actually SEEN. Imagine knowing if your ad was actually SEEN and for how long?

    It’s about transparency. Digital will be taking more and more of the branding dollars traditionally spent off line (TV, OOH, Radio, Newspaper).

    On average only 10% of branding dollars are online today. The shift has already started. Sticky is accelerating the process.

    Actual SEEN metric, helps brands optimize branding campaigns, agencies will be helping their clients increase engagement and strong publishers will earn more digital branding dollars.

    Watch this 90 second video and see the future of real transparency.


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