Here’s looking at view - Digital advertising in transition in 2017

Sian Whitnall, Head of Digital Ikon Group Sydney looks at the the changing state of play for digital advertising. 

Here's looking at view

When the AANA released its report last year stating that the minimum viewability should be at 70% by January 1st 2017, everyone wondered if this was actually possible or sustainable. It’s now March 2017, so how far have we progressed?

The bad news? As an industry we are still applying the MRC standard of 50%. Whilst there are publishers who have since released VCPM pricing models, there are very specific caveats and limitations.

The good news? Publishers, media and creative agencies, and advertisers have spent the last 12 months taking this issue incredibly seriously.

This includes publishers introducing a new VCPM pricing model for agencies and brands to purchase inventory which meets the 70% viewability standard.

Publishers are continuing to improve viewability across their platforms, but for some this means a recalibration of their websites, which won’t happen overnight.

It is also based on a substantial commitment to testing and learning across their platforms to ascertain what works.

Agencies now have the option to purchase specific inventory at a 70% viewability minimum, at a guaranteed cost across the ‘premium’ publishers; albeit inclusive of a varied premium. 

Transparency in the transition

Ikon has been tracking viewability since 2015, when we appointed MOAT as our viewability and brand safety partner.

Since 2015 we have been continuously working to optimize all of our digital campaigns and improve our viewability scores, without charging our clients a price inflation.

Developing our own benchmarks by client and by activity (brand vs performance) has allowed us to have educated conversations with clients and vendors.

We’ve introduce minimum standards of viewability where relevant to hold ourselves accountable and we’ve been able to adapt our method of consistent improvement to cross-device viewability from display to video planning and buying.

As we continue to refine our benchmarks on viewability, we are now looking at combining a 70% viewbility metric along with other variables of success to ensure that we provide our clients with the highest ROAS across all types of digital media buys. One area in particular is the effectiveness a 70% viewability minimum has on traditional ‘brand’ (awareness / consideration) vs ‘performance’ (acquisition) focused campaigns.

Until we are able to fully understand the relationship between viewability, action and the CPA impact, then shifting to a viewable trading model for performance will only inflate buying costs while driving little return.

A view on the year ahead

The reality is that the market may not be ready for 100% viewability just yet, however it’s set to be a transitionary year for digital advertising. A year that, at its end, should see the industry accepted average viewability level rise significantly.

Publishers will continue to work to complete their optimisations to their sites and inventory, resulting in a reduction of impression volume – but the remaining impressions will be of a higher quality.

Creative agencies will feel the impact of viewability as the re-configuration of formats will broadly change across publishers and adhere to the IAB’s L.E.A.N standards. Large file sizes impact loading, viewability and inflate costs, so we’ll continue to work with creative agencies to reduce file size without losing engagement.

As an agency, Ikon’s challenge will be planning early enough to access the viewable inventory taking into consideration the premiums charged by the major publishers. We’re conscious that demand may outstrip supply, but are working to deliver the right balance between increased cost and % in-view to ensure our campaigns remain cost effective and efficient.

Recap: When is a view a view? The AANA’s viewability paper accepts the MRC definition as 50% viewable for 1 continuous second, and 50% viewable for 2 continuous seconds on Video (both across desktop and display). The AANA advise advertisers to expect 70% viewability.