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Poll Reveals Pessimism About Viewability In 2015 Among Digital Media & Ad Execs
Survey also gauges industry thoughts on native, programmatic and ad fraud.
A poll of 300 digital media and advertising executives highlights the challenges ahead for an industry-wide adoption of viewability as the new standard for buying digital ad impressions. Over 60 percent of the executives polls selected viewability as the top challenge facing the industry in 2015. Of those, roughly 65 percent are pessimistic that the majority of digital publishers will achieve high viewability delivery by the end of the year.
The survey was conducted by digital consulting firm The 614 Group and AdMonsters, a community for digital ad tech and operations leaders.
The executives overwhelmingly selected Viewability as the biggest challenge facing digital publishers in 2015 among the options which included Ad Fraud (the top choice for just 26 percent of respondents), Reputation Management, Malware or Other.
The IAB, in December, warned that 100 percent viewability is an unreasonable expectation in 2015 and suggested a threshold of 70 percent of impressions meeting viewability standards. This poll suggests that executives aren’t optimistic about even getting to 70 percent. The study’s authors, Rob Rasko of The 614 Group, and Rob Beeler of AdMonsters, say they were surprised at the level of doubt on this question. “The biggest surprise was the level of agreement around the idea that publishers would not be ‘majority viewable,’ in 2015. There are no reputable publishers who wish to sell ads that aren’t seen, and with continued effort and emphasis, I disagree with this poll question’s outcome. Let’s stay tuned and see what actually happens,” said Rasko in a statement.
There is more reason to be positive when it comes to fighting ad fraud. Just 26 percent cited it as the top pressing issue facing the industry. Over half of respondents expect to see a decrease in ad fraud in 2015 due to new technologies and industry efforts to combat the issues.
Programmatic is seen as a huge positive for the industry that still needs work. Over 80 percent of the executives agreed that programmatic has moved the industry forward, but just as many also responded “strongly” that programmatic still needs fixing if it’s going to make an even greater impact. The fact that programmatic pricing still lags behind direct pricing is indicative of the challenges that still exist. Nearly 70 percent said programmatic is discounted by at least 20 percent compared to direct sales. Nearly 20 percent of those see average revenue differences of 80 percent. Only about 15 percent said they see no average revenue discrepancy between programmatic and direct.
Native advertising is challenging the viability of standard ad units. Nearly 90 percent of respondents answered that, in light of the increased focus on native advertising, standard ad units as they currently exist will not support the whole industry. In equal numbers, the executives said native advertising will be somewhat-to-very pervasive in 2015.
“Programmatic ad trading is creating some efficiencies, but we still have a long way to go before programmatic trading has a truly transformative impact for publishers. In the meantime, they will explore other revenue approaches – like native advertising – to make up for revenue shortfalls,” writes Beeler of AdMonsters.
“The results of the survey hint that more questions about Native need to be asked, for example, the difference between a true contextually relevant native execution and an in-stream banner,” write Beeler and Rasko.
On this point, Beeler and Rasko asked Justin Choi, of Nativo, for his thoughts. “True native executions are an opportunity to differentiate from click-focused ad units that dominate digital advertising today – to attract brand advertising dollars and to align the interests of publishers, advertisers and consumers,” says Choi. “In-feed banners that resemble content, but give consumers an unexpected interruptive experience – if we are not careful this could develop into a new form of ‘pop–up’ which result in the very consumer avoidance true native is working to resolve.”