• Shifting the Viewability Conversation: Metrics that Drive Results

    Since the MRC released its viewability guidelines just over a year ago, the industry has made significant progress addressing the standard - from display to video and now mobile. But major challenges are still evident and will continue to be until all sides of the industry can agree on a solution. With many advertisers now demanding 100 percent viewability, inconsistent measurement across vendors, and publishers not fully understanding the methodology behind their viewability numbers - whose responsibility is it to finally slay the giant that is viewability?

    All of ours. Every player that touches the media ecosystem, including advertisers, technology vendors and publishers, are responsible not just for putting the viewability conversation to rest, but for refocusing efforts to metrics and measurements that make actual business impact on the media industry.

    Why refocus? Because viewability is not the end-all-be-all. It’s a very simple starting point and doesn't measure anything related to real attention, engagement or ROI down the line. It’s an interim standard as the industry steers toward measuring investments in media and true business results – and it’s not going away until the industry comes together.  

    We’re halfway there. To my advertising friends: you get what you pay for. Guaranteed viewability costs more. As an industry, we agreed on certain market norms that will take mutual investment to change.  The result, however, will in aggregate be more efficient return on invested budget.

    Publishers already have tools to help with viewability requirements—one easily accessed toolset is a change to ad formats. A great example is outstream advertising. These “viewable by design” units can be deployed quickly and at scale. Standard formats like banners and pre-roll were not constructed with viewability in mind and were certainly not priced according to impact. It’s time to change that.

    In short, pricing is a major part of the issue, whether we like it or not. The beast will only be put to rest when the industry grants viewability its fair value. Actual attention delivers brand impact and drives higher ROI, and publishers should be allowed to price inventory accordingly—whether based on viewability numbers or attention metrics like time spent on a webpage.

    Current viewability standards are not exactly ideal and still allow for significant media waste, but they do open up the opportunity for publishers, advertisers and vendors alike to address the issue and adjust investment strategy. When we finally slay the viewability giant, the industry will shift focus to metrics that provide a holistic way of thinking about user behavior, true campaign performance and successful interactions with online media—not just worry if an ad is able to be seen.

    Mark Yackanich is CEO of Genesis Media, the only company that turns attention into value by dynamically pairing quality editorial with video ads.