Jul 10 2015
Anthony Loredo

Programmatic Zeitgeist: Publishers are Clear on Viewability, but are Advertisers?


Ad viewability measurement standards persist as a hot button debate between advertisers and publishers. eMarketer rounds up a few research reports to illustrate how important, and confusing, the definition itself is for marketers. Imagine how publishers feel when they receive different demands from clients, and those demands may even deviate from the agreed-upon industry definition! As it stands today, the Media Ratings Council (MRC), the governing body charged with self-regulating the media industry, states that an ad is deemed viewable when half of it is in the browser for one continuous second. Yet, according to April 2015 research from SQUAD during an ANA conference, only 30% of advertising professionals recognized this as the industry standard. Instead, 56% of them believed at least 75% of ad pixels had to be in view. It’s easy to see how publishers can get flustered when they are following the rules of the ad game but get dinged by their clients, who are playing by a whole different set of rules.

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GQ Redesigns Site with Viewability In Mind

Taking no chances, men’s lifestyle media company GQ has made some initial redesigns of its site (ahead of a major overhaul coming in the fall). Advertising Age’s Tim Peterson points out that the new features were built with viewability in mind. A new slideshow format features a banner ad below it and one beside it. These ads remain in place as people swipe through a slideshow, while additional ads appear in-stream in the slideshows itself. This is one way to make sure people see brands like Mr. Porter, Mont Blanc, Tiffany & Co. and LG – who are the first to try this format. The article cites an interview with CBS Interactive's chief revenue officer and the Interactive Advertising Bureau's chairman David Morris saying that viewability is the biggest issue currently facing publishers. However, in a survey by market research firm C4, 78% of respondents said they find slideshow ads somewhat annoying or completely frustrating, and 54% said these ads diminish the respondents' perception of the brand. So you can see how publishers can get flustered when they are following the rules of the ad game but get dinged by their readers, who don’t seem to like the rules.

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Programmatic is Mainstream? Yes!!! Well, maybe…

While it may be too soon to proclaim that programmatic advertising is mainstream, a lot of signs indicate that it will be soon. And to think that RTB, the first iteration of programmatic advertising, was an industry of $0 a little over five years ago. This year, it accounts for $15 billion in ad spend! Nevertheless, according to AdExchanger Research analyst Joanna O’Connell, the firm’s annual report shows how allocation of programmatic budgets for open exchanges is still going strong. Even though there is legitimate fear about inventory quality and ad fraud in open environments, there is still a lot of value in RTB. For starters, it’s still comparatively easier to execute than other types of programmatic buying such as programmatic direct or private exchanges, which are difficult to scale for any advertiser. Now, here’s a caveat from this survey – it asks about the allocation of a programmatic budget, and not allocation of overall digital budgets. Even though many advertisers are putting money into programmatic advertising, not all of them are jumping in heavily. “Mainstream” may be too aggressive to describe programmatic, but there’s no doubt that more and more trust (and spend) is shifting to this way of buying ads.

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