What’s Next Beyond Viewability in 2019? Hint: We All Compete For It.
November 26, 2018
Last week, we released our game changing whitepaper, Attention: The New Media Currency. This content piece, intended to assist all digital marketers at better understanding the landscape of digital video advertising and the challenges being faced, revealed some very intriguing data. In particular, it helped us to confirm a preconceived notion regarding a digital advertising metric: viewability. As we imagined, viewability is being used as a KPI for video advertising, but should it be?
How Does The MRC Define Viewability?
The MRC provides guidelines regarding requirements for viewable video advertising impressions as follows:
A video ad that meets the criteria of 50% of the ad’s pixels on an in-focus browser tab in the viewable space of the browser page can be counted as a viewable video ad impression if it meets the following time criterion:
Video Time Requirement: To qualify for counting as a viewable video ad impression, it is required that 2 continuous seconds of the video advertisement is played, meeting the same Pixel Requirement necessary for a viewable display ad. This required time is not necessarily the first 2 seconds of the video ad; any unduplicated content of the ad comprising 2 continuous seconds qualifies in this regard.
The guidelines go on to state the following:
Similar to the rules for counting display ad viewable impressions, strong user interaction with a video ad may, in certain instances, be considered a proxy for viewability. Specifically, a legitimate click on a video ad (i.e. the click satisfies the requirements for counting a click, based on the IAB’s Click Measurement Guidelines) may result in a viewable video impression even if the ad does not meet the pixel and time criteria necessary for a viewable video impression (but, as noted earlier in these guidelines, a click that initiates a Click to Play video ad would not, in itself, be considered a user interaction that satisfies this criteria).
By taking a close look at these guidelines, we understand that the MRC attempts to set out a standard that can be used as an indication of the quality of the placement of media, rather than an indication of the amount of time spent watching the video (or paying attention to it).
The Big Surprise
This is why it was a surprise that more than half (55%) of marketers are using viewability as a metric to determine the performance of video ads. Specifically, we asked marketers which metrics they track to determine the performance of video ads. Respondents acknowledged Attention (85%), Engagement (79%), and Viewability (55%) as their top 3 KPIs to ensure success of online video campaigns.
It is unclear as to why every advertiser isn’t using Viewability as a core KPI to ensure that the audience is at least offered an opportunity to see their video ads. Without the bare minimum assurance of having an ad on the screen and in-view, how can advertisers expect any impact on the other objectives?
Furthermore, just because a video ad was partially on the screen for 2 seconds is no guarantee that it was ever watched or watched through to completion.
What To Do About It
As an industry, viewability has become a major focus point as a result of trending topics like brand safety, transparency and fraud prevention. However, many of us are forgoing primary objectives as they become clouded by baseline requirements for digital media execution.