In an increasingly complex media world, advertisers still struggle when it comes to having a true picture of media quality and viewability across mobile apps. Raphaël Rodier, Global Chief Revenue Officer at Ogury, looks at why the current definition of ad viewability is not enough.
Remember the days when you turned on a TV, watched any one of four or five channels for a few hours of prime-time appointment viewing, then went to bed? I don’t either, because that was before the digital age, which heralded a new era of countless entertainment, news and sports viewing choices, far more than we could ever have imagined back in the 1970s. If there’s one thing a video advertiser might miss from that bygone era, it’s the simplicity of knowing how many people saw your ad—a Nielsen diary rating was the only metric buyers and sellers cared about.
Today’s infinitely more complex media world empowers marketers to know so much more about the effect of their advertising, from impact to engagement, from sentiment to action taken. And digital video is increasingly the medium that captures user attention. But with it come real limits to translating brand awareness initiatives onto digital. In order to arm advertisers in understanding the true media quality and impact of their campaigns, the concept of “viewability” was created, and soon became an essential metric for all digital advertisers. After all, if you don’t know whether your ad was even seen, all those other metrics become practically irrelevant.
The Media Rating Council (MRC) defines ad viewability as: at least 50% of an ad must be in view for a minimum of one second for display ads, or for two consecutive seconds for video ads. But that compels me to ask: If you’re only seeing 50% of an ad, are you really seeing it at all?
With the MRC’s standard in hand, advertisers then tasked measurement companies to help them understand the viewability performance of their advertising campaigns. It was a helpful benchmark in ensuring that at least a portion of the ad they paid for flashed across the user’s screen. But there was one digital channel where viewability was virtually un-measurable, and that’s mobile apps. Ads served within apps could not be easily measured, because the lack of a standard technology in place for doing so. The result is that advertisers have never been able to get a true picture of media quality and viewability across the mobile app buy, holding them back from investing more into the medium for their brand awareness initiatives – even though the opportunities for high impact, viewable, and full screen video is plentiful in this environment.
Fortunately, the release of the IAB’s Open Measurement technology has made it seamless to measure the viewability of ads served in mobile apps, no matter which measurement partner you choose to work with. That removes a major obstacle to running big branding on mobile. And now that viewability can always be measured, it should always be considered. It should be used as a check on partners that might sacrifice viewability to bolster the Video Completion Rate, by allowing the video to play off screen, which deceptively reports good completion rate performance. But what good is a completed video if a portion of it wasn’t visible? Try measuring by V2CR, by multiplying your campaign’s VCR x Viewability, and you’ll get the real picture of video performance.
Being seen is important, and viewability is critical because it drives impact. We know that viewability has a positive effect on brand advertising but it also can help with sales lift on performance ads as well, according to Google research. But let’s take a step back to question what we think of as media quality – the MRC’s efforts to define viewability standards have been noble but still don’t reach levels we believe allow for impact. They define an ad as viewable with just 50% of the ad’s pixels on screen.
That standard simply isn’t good enough anymore. The measuring stick should be about the amount of the creative that is actually visible on the user’s screen. Seeing half an ad offers little to no value to the advertiser – a 100% fully onscreen rate needs to be the standard. It bears repeating: visibility is important for impact and memorability.
Don’t settle for viewability the way the market defines it. Instead, as an industry, let’s explore options for 100% full creative visibility, which if attained, helps increase time-spent metrics as well. They include:
● Pursuing more in-app advertising for branding, which places highly visible, full-screen ads at logical content breaks when viewers are more inclined to watch, rather than being interrupted;
● Social media experiences, like Instagram stories or Tik Tok advertisements, which have natural breaks for highly visible, full-screen video ads;
● Even YouTube’s skipping option guarantees the entire ad is seen before the skip option comes up. Yes, those are pre-roll ad placements, but they can and often do work.
In the meantime, go beyond standard viewability and use MOAT’s fully on-screen rate metric to audit the performance of providers you’re working with. It’s safe to say you stand a far better chance of full screen viewability when you’re working with reputable publishers creating quality content whose ad positions can be relied upon to be 100 percent on screen. Also, you should seek out high-impact digital moments from quality partners, who you can more likely count on to offer brand safety and anti-fraud safeguards. Finally, consider working with a partner that utilizes OMID-compliant inventory on mobile, which we at Ogury offer so that every mobile in-app placement is fully and transparently measurable for viewability and fully-on-screen rate.
We can all agree that no self-respecting media company would accept its ads not being 100% visible. You wouldn’t build a billboard behind a big tree that blocked the view, would you? No. Let’s apply the same standards to digital video advertising.
By Raphaël Rodier
Global Chief Revenue Officer