Experts call for a rethink as viewability measures fail marketers

The media industry has become beholden to arbitrary viewability measures developed with no proven analytics and marketers need better tools to understand if their ads have been seen, a panel on the pitfalls of viewability measurement has warned.

Mumbrella 360 viewability panel

Speaking at Mumbrella360, OMD Sydney managing director Yvette Mayer said that the arbitrary manner in which current viewability standards had been set meant they were failing the industry.

“I think we are happy with it as a baseline, but I don’t think anyone would agree that it is scientifically proven to be an accurate metric,” Mayer said.

“I came form the US where the IAB through the MRC came up with the standards and I know for a fact it was a decision by committee, there was no analytics behind it and I find that personally a bit frustrating when you think about digital and the amount of data.

“It feels like a miss to me that we have so much information and access to data that we could model to find a more realistic point of quality.”

She said while existing measures could act as a baseline, there needed to be secondary metrics and new ways to optimise beyond the baseline that would be more meaningful for brands.

However, Nathan Powell, director of sales, digital product at Nine Entertainment Co. warned that there had been too much focus on the issue and that the industry would soon evolve to see viewability as a secondary concern.

“I have spent the last 18 months of my life, just as we all have in the industry probably, talking a bit too much about viewability,” Powell said.

“It is important, but it’s not the most important thing. My view is that over the next 12 months, if we are future-gazing, it will actually no longer be part of the conversations, it’s just something that will be expected as part of your digital advertising campaign.”

Hugo Drayton, CEO of Inskin, said another issue in the viewability stakes was the the way in which creative was being treated, noting that the quality of the ads played an important role in its viewability.

“As brand marketers, this is where we are really clear, our concern is that in a world of advertising and marketing where we need to be brilliant and creative and really grab the viewer’s attention, there is a tendency to maybe subjugate creativity in the quest for efficiency and programmatic delivery,” Drayton said.

“We think that that is extremely dangerous. Because along with the formats, it’s the creative execution that’s the most important determining factor in visual engagement.”

However, he also warned that marketers and agencies needed to have independent verification.

“We think you should use third-party tracking, there are lots of vendors working in this space and we think you should insist that you partners also use third-party tracking. It’s just simple accountability, not rocket science, just basic good business practice.”

Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO Vijay Solanki said the IAB would soon be holding a summit to address the issues of viewability and measurement.


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