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Trending @ Mobile World Congress: Ad Viewabilty

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March 2, 2016 | 4 min read

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Having come back from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, brain undeniably blown by the sheer magnitude of the event there were a few trends I noticed being more prevalent than others. Ad Verification was a trend very much in the lime light when it came to mobile so I felt it would be a great feature to follow up with.

Ad viewability is set to become one of the key issues of 2016 as advertisers shift their TV adspend to digital video and experiment with their own benchmarks, while the wider industry begins to agree measurement standards. We are seeing a shift in advertising formats and therefore a shift in the way we monitor, regulate and monetize advertising. Mobile is still seen as one of the most disruptive areas within ad tech when it comes to agreeing on best practice.

What I’ve found having spoken to industry experts is that the industry has a huge amount of work to do when it comes to reducing discrepancies, such as the ambiguity around how to measure when an ad is being played, and whether the sound is on, etc.

Advertisers are demanding more vigorous assessment of how their digital media spend is performing, with almost two-thirds claiming they will alter their adspend if assurances over viewability are not provided, according to a report from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). 61 per cent of online advertisers will shift media spend if their verification needs are not met.

The report goes on to note how "some large media owners do not allow third-party measurement vendors to report viewable ad impressions to their clients", instead they opt for the aforementioned "internally derived metrics".

On the one hand, advertisers are reluctant to pay for mobile ads that people never have the chance to see, this is down to either people scrolling past them before they are in view, or because the ads fail to render or load in time. On the flip side, media companies are concerned that the mobile ads they are delivering that actually are viewable aren’t being given credit because the tracking technology is flawed.

I spoke to Niall Hogan, UK managing director of Integral Ad Science, who said that the MRC & IABs have worked hard to create a market wide started for display, mobile and video.

“However, some advertisers are now viewing this standard, for example 50 per cent for one second for display, as a minimum for viewability, and are starting to look at customisable metrics that best suit their campaign needs.”

Niall went on to say: “There are pros and cons in both approaches. Retaining and working with the industry standard enables buyers and sellers to use different tech and to have a comparable figure from which to discuss performance and trading. Customisable metrics might help advertisers drive better viewability results, but puts pressure on the buyers and sellers of digital media to be working with a single viewability solution that can accurately report what both parties need.”

It would appear that advertisers are going to demand customisable metrics that deliver more effective viewability scores. How does the supply side deal with so many metrics simultaneously? Firstly, they need to work with tech vendors and advertisers to determine what is the optimum viewability required for a campaign to be effective and hit KPIs (this isn't always 100 per cent viewability). Secondly, they need to ensure that what we are counting as viewability is matching what the agency or buyer is recording as viewability - apples & apples. If we can achieve these two things, we should be able to move forward as an industry together, and help each other navigate this disruptive period.

Lara Sheldrake is a senior programmatic specialist at Sphere Digital

In other news Sphere recently launched our Technology and Creative Services Division. If you are looking to hire developers or designers on a permanent or contract basis, please do get in touch. hello@spherelondon.co.uk or 0203 728 2973

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