Vincent Potier, COO at Captify, looks at how brands need to go beyond just the simple metric of viewability.
They are called non-viewable impressions.
And they have become a digital marketer’s worst nightmare. In the last few years, the problem has increasingly alarmed advertisers. Driven by bad or outright fraudulent behaviour from some actors in the value chain, between 40% and 60% of ad impressions never stand a chance of being seen. Viewability should be a given in the digital world but it is not.
It’s a massive waste of money, and the ad-tech community has responded by creating a “viewability” metric that, shone on available inventory, defines whether a digital display ad truly is being viewed at all, and this metric has massively increased in importance.
The fact that ads paid for should be viewable ought to be a prerequisite of any media system. However, that they are not, is the fault of an economic model that is still premised on serving direct response (DR) goals when, in reality, digital advertising has fast become a brand channel.
Direct-response digital advertising seeks to elicit a specific consumer response, like a sign-up, a download or a purchase, while brand ads aim to ignite interest, facilitate engagement, or increase awareness. For years, direct-response or performance advertisers have been looking for sales whilst brands have measured the success of their campaigns in many different ways (CTR, then VTR, engagement, awareness lift…).
Still, brands navigate in a historical performance ecosystem which is now fast adapting to the needs of a new “clientele”. The DR-centric digital world is a one that entails auctions, bids, dynamic prices, ad exchanges, open exchange, user-level targeting. Whereas, audiences, awareness, impact, engagement, ad recall, likeability are all new concepts.
The ecosystem was ill-equipped for the new wave of brand advertisers…
First, disintermediated by programmatic technology, publishers have increasingly struggled to monetise their content and inventory and have sometimes sacrificed user experience for ad load, leading to an oversupply of bad inventory.
Second, the influx of brand ad spend, coupled with the emergence of richer and more expensive ad formats to support it, has pushed average CPM prices ever higher – and attracted more bad actors profiting from non-viewable impressions (more attractive to defraud people when the CPMs are higher).
Third, is the ironic problem of emerging viewability tech – for every viewability vendor you may use, you are likely to get a different result.
Brands, who are becoming the main financiers of quality publishing, and set out to influence consumers’ attitudes and behaviours first, long before a purchasing decision is made, need viewable ads.
If you combine the new viewability focus of major clients like P&G, agencies’ own determination to make it a 2017 worldwide priority, publishers concerted effort on the problem and the work of viewability measurement vendors, it is clear that the industry will, step by step, march toward the goal of 100% viewability without necessarily attaining it: 70-80% is feasible technically, 80-90% is possible with current technology but expensive and time-consuming
But is viewability enough? Of course not. Even 100% viewability? Why would advertisers ever satisfy themselves with a campaign achieving 100% viewability? Is that really a media or a marketing goal?
Viewability is a prerequisite. It is hygiene, it is not a marketing goal per se. Ads should be viewable, simply because the advertiser pays for them.
But let’s be wary of a sole focus on viewability.
In DR (a user-led rather than content-led environment), extreme focus on viewability can lead to buying risk-adversity ; if traders buy mainly what they are sure will be viewed, they decide not to take inventory risks even when the user is there. The end goal of DR is about getting sales, not serving a certain number of ads. If the trader takes less risks, he will limit his ability to scale a campaign and find new pockets of business.
In brand, becoming solely viewability-obsessed means forgetting about engagement and ad’s primary role: ultimately influence a consumer attitude, behaviour and therefore purchasing decision.
Yes, an ad should be viewable, but mostly it should be relevant and shown to the right audiences, then it should say something interesting and compelling. Let’s never forget that.
By Vincent Potier
About the author:
Vincent Potier is the COO of global data activation company and pioneer of Search Intelligence, Captify. He is a renowned digital expert and has an in-depth knowledge of the marketing industry. His experience in the sector has meant he has been a much sought after advisor for digital businesses (ad tech companies, agencies, advertisers). At Captify he will focus on commercial, operational and strategic matters and will provide a wealth of experience to further boost business growth.
Before Captify, Vincent was the Managing Director for Vonage UK and Canada where he was responsible for the financial and commercial turn around for the businesses.
Vincent has extensive sales, marketing and general management experience and has spent his career honing his business development, management and strategy skills globally. Vincent has had a number of roles across Europe, Asia and Latin America, consulting on digital strategies in the ad tech, agency and client space. Roles include VP, Strategy & Business Development at Universal Mobile and Director of Marketing and Communications at Vizzavi.