The Fourth Quarter Countdown to Viewability
Marketers love digital media, plain and simple. The digital platform gives marketers opportunities to create conversations and consumer relationships that heretofore were not possible. Brands are being built and results are being generated due to digital’s expansion within the marketing mix.
But marketers are also frustrated by the lack of “viewability”. In 2012, according to various sources, 1.8 trillion display ads were paid for, but could not be seen. We are close to realizing a material improvement to this fundamental issue: viewability. Yes, the viewable impression is nearly here. The Media Rating Council (MRC) expects to lift its Viewable Impression Advisory by the end of this year, and at that time marketers will eagerly start buying digital media on viewable metrics. Publishers and agencies, we hope you’re ready.
Marketers reportedly waste billions of dollars annually in display ads that are not viewable. ANA’s Board of Directors and the larger marketing community have demanded that viewability become the basis for digital currency and transactions.
In February 2011, when ANA joined with IAB and the 4A’s to start the Making Measurement Make Sense initiative, we recognized a tremendous shortfall in digital spending productivity. We saw a substantial confidence gap in understanding the value of marketing investment in display and video advertising. We were horrified that the media that was “supposed to be the most accountable” was turning out to be the least accountable. With great anticipation, we are now just a few months away from resolving a significant driver of this dilemma.
The foundation of this excitement is the overdue shift from served impressions to viewable impressions. It gives marketers the assurance that consumers get to see the ad that they paid to place. Critically, it opens the opportunity for apples-to-apples cross-platform comparisons that will increase marketer confidence in the development of intelligent and capable multi-screen marketing plans. It provides marketers with the accountability they need to embrace digital more enthusiastically. There’s also a great benefit for publishers, agencies, and others that succeed in making the transformation to viewable, as they will become the preferred partners of these hungry marketers. The upside is enormous for all those that make the shift.
We recognize, however, that the move to viewable is rattling many businesses to their cores. Publishers need to adopt SafeFrame to increase the proportion of their inventory that is measurable for viewability, and to adjust the very constitution of their operations to manage this important currency change.
We understand that the system will be imperfect. Refinement of viewable impression transactions will continue even after the MRC Advisory is lifted. For example, new complexities in discrepancy resolution will need to be explored and resolved
There is no turning back. The marketing community has waited too long and wasted too much money not to make the leap to viewable. We cannot be frozen by fear or perfectionism either. Without forward motion, we will undermine the advancements already established. We will also undercut future enhancements that will make digital media a more appealing brand-building investment for marketers.
The viewable impression will be the foundation of fundamental innovations such as the Digital GRP. Creating a GRP that is comparable to that in other media is crucial for the evolution of cross-platform analytics. Marketer’s inherent challenge to enhance integrated marketing would be dramatically reduced by a “common GRP.” This would facilitate improved decision-making and resolve cornerstone issues such as marketing mix modeling and media budgeting decisions. Combined with the growing use of the common coding power of Ad-ID, marketing measurement for publishers, agencies, and marketers would be turbocharged.
For the digital media industry, the only question is how fast we can implement these historic changes. The MRC is bounding onwards, completing the work needed to lift the advisory and continuing to guide us toward a more accountable media marketplace. For agencies, forward motion means being ready to rely on the clarity provided by these new metrics to advise and act in the best interests of marketers. For publishers, it means adopting SafeFrame now and being ready to satisfy marketer demand for viewable impression transactions by the end of the year.
This is the age of accountability. If you’re ready to meet the demands of the day, you’ll be greatly rewarded. But if you’re not a participant, you’ll run the risk of being left on the sidelines. Let’s do this all together and move the industry decidedly forward.
About the Author
Bob Liodice is President and Chief Executive Officer, Association of National Advertisers