The underlying assumption behind all advertising buys – no matter the channel – is that the ad will get a fair shot at being seen by the target audience in the proper context.
Until the advent of digital advertising, there was no reason to question this belief. If an ad ran in, say, the New Yorker’s print edition, then it was clear that the ad existed and would likely catch the attention of a certain percentage of readers. Even in the analog world though, achieving 100% viewability is unlikely. Some readers might flip past the page. Others might never open the magazine. The same is true for TV. As advertisers know all too well, many viewers see a commercial break as an opportunity to talk to other people in the room, go to the kitchen for a snack or visit the bathroom.
Digital advertising faces different obstacles to viewability. Some ads might be missed because the reader never got to the bottom of the page or zipped right past it. Ad fraud is also a major concern. A media agency might say that an ad reached X amount of people, but the figure was really Y because many of the “people” were actually bots that were designed to gin up such metrics. Ad blocking also means that many messages never get a chance to be viewed. Finally, there’s context and brand safety. In print, there’s less of a chance that, say, an ad for an airline will accidentally run against a story about a plane crash. On the web, the risk is higher.
The good news is that we are getting closer all the time to true measurability and verification in digital advertising. On the other hand, guarantees of viewability and brand protection are going to necessarily raise prices. That’s because the digital ad business up until now has been predicated on lower rates of actual viewability and brand protection. Quality tends to cost more, as anyone who loves a well-made product knows.
Entering a new phase of digital advertising in which marketers actually pay accurate amounts for ads that get viewed by real people in proper context will require a few changes.
First of all, there will need to be some reeducation among marketers. In particular, if you’re used to paying a certain CPM, you will have to recalculate based on the fact that the placement is truly effective. In other words, you get what you pay for. You always have.
Second, attribution models need to evolve. If you’re New Line Cinema for instance, you need to be able to connect the dots that Jane Doe saw your trailer and then went and purchased a ticket to that movie. This requires a sophisticated view of the consumer journey, across channels both off and online. In general, the industry has based pricing on last-click attribution, which, as we all know, is not the way advertising works. The relationship between prospect and brand is a long and complex one, with many on- and offline detours along the engagement path. Pricing needs to reflect that.
Finally, the industry needs to create standards: from the marketer through the vendor and inventory supply chain. We need to collaborate so it’s easier to separate signal from noise. We need universal and consistent measurement methodologies for fraud and to decide on what constitutes its definition. One-off and standalone efforts by individual companies are a starting point – and are an obligation for marketer customers – but without cooperation we’ll each only be making incremental advances against fraud. Impression quality is everyone’s responsibility and to the entire ecosystem’s benefit.
We are entering an era of digital advertising that will offer greater accountability and transparency than analog advertising. So far, the perceived lack of accountability in digital has been a double-edged sword since advertisers are becoming more savvy about the correlation between higher prices and return on ad spend. A future of more stringent accountability awaits though, where marketers determine which tactics, including fraud tolerance policy, contextual relevance, and viewability standards drive to their desired outcomes.
Founded in 2005, Amobee is an advertising platform that understands how people consume content. Our goal is to optimize outcomes for advertisers and media companies, while providing a better consumer experience. Through our platform, we help customers further their audience development, optimize their cross channel performance across all TV, connected TV, and digital media, and drive new customer growth through detailed analytics and reporting. Amobee is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singtel, one of the largest communications technology companies in the world.
If you’re curious to learn more, watch the on-demand demo or take a deep dive into our Research & Insights section where you can find recent webinars on-demand, media plan insights & activation templates, and more data-driven content. If you’re ready to take the next step into a sustainable, consumer-first advertising future, contact us today.
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