The Future of Viewability Standards & Transactions

February 29, 2016

In a recent report by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), almost two-thirds of respondents said they were prepared to alter their advertising spend if they don’t get the independent ad viewability figures they want. A shocking 90% said they that they were not confident that industry standards were currently being met on viewability.

First and foremost, ad viewability metrics and optimization models will profoundly change the digital advertising marketplace in just a few years.

Secondly, no one is sure what ad viewability really is yet. Industry folks are still in the process of creating the benchmarks and guidelines that define this emerging market, which is why only a few companies are playing in this space right now.

Viewability & Digital Publishing

One of the few digital publishers already cashing in on the ad viewability trend is Tribune Media. This publisher has already created a price marketplace where ads are optimized and sold based on viewability standards. 

And although this strategy is no where near perfected, it has already started to pay off for Tribune Media in a number of ways. According to the Tribune, this new sales model has already generated new business opportunities and increased yields.

Key Takeaway: As advertisers — especially digital advertisers — focus more on viewability metrics and spend efficiency, ad placements and audience demographics are going to become major selling points for media and adtech companies.

Immediate Impact of Ad Viewability

Still very much in its infancy, viewability has already disrupted the marketplace by changing the way marketing budgets are spent. Advertisers have already decreased digital display budgets, choosing to increase investments in native advertising, mobile marketing and sponsored content.

publishers like Tribune Media, which has created a price marketplace where ads are sold based on viewability, to great interest and, according to the publisher, increased yields. These first movers are more likely to see a short-term increase in activity, at least when trading in viewability.

Long-Term Effects

After different payment and ad models clash for the next year or two, expect the publishing market to settle down a little. Firm standards for viewability will be put into place, and those standards will influence new publishing models. What models will win out is difficult to judge for now. Simplistic options like, for example, discounting ads based on viewability (and ad with only 50% viewability would sell for 50 cents on the dollar compared to a top-page ad) seem likely to have a place in the future. Current models, like programmatic buying, seem likely to fade away or drastically change as well.

Another likely outcome is that viewability will change website design and ad placement in subtle but increasingly important ways. Large ads will be broken up to maximize valuable space, and smaller ads will be distributed more evenly throughout the website. This is going to be in direct opposition to some current trends, which are decreasing overall viewability due to programmatic buying.

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