Digital media viewability was defined by the IAB back in 2015 as having more than 50% of an ad loaded on a browser for more than 2 seconds. The year prior to that study, we openly asked at Media Two what the standards should be and if the then current benchmark of 43.9% was a bad thing or a good thing. At the time, nobody had any clue – yet 3 years later, ad viewability is still up for debate and the trades have it “breaking news” anytime someone demands more.
Obviously, over the years the accountability of traditional media was never questioned, as the technology just wasn’t there. Did anyone ever read to page 7B in the local newspaper? And if they did, did they even see the 2 column by 3 inch ad you placed? We blindly paid on a rate base and just accepted that the audit bureaus had our back. But we’ve grown up since then, and the digital technology can now tell us if the banner ad actually loaded, and did it appear on the screen “above the fold” or was it buried at the bottom where there was no chance of being seen. What’s conveniently left out of the equation is still the argument of banner blindness, and just because the ad is now positioned in a potentially viewable location, that doesn’t mean anyone actually noticed your ad. So what is the next step – only counting ads that are seen utilizing eye-tracking browsers? Although I’m sure that’s coming, and I’m sure that will make our world even more technologically sound, there’s a simple strategy everyone should be implementing, and we often refer to it as “outreach”.
In the media industry, if you are not prospecting for new clients, then you’re really just acting as a cash register for your accounts. But with all of the announcements about holding companies mandating 100% viewable ads, it actually creates a great opportunity for savvy media buyers to Ad Boldly. Let’s face it, just because agencies are mandating viewable ads only, doesn’t mean a publisher is going to redesign their website overnight – so there instantly is an opportunity to buy ads at the bottom of the page that 70% aren’t getting viewed… And when I say buy ads, what I mean, is buy audiences. Whether the user sees your ad or not, you now have the opportunity to capture that audience pixel for pennies on the dollar, and then remarket to them in a viewable setting. So while your competitors are sticking their nose up at that unsavory impression, you’re salivating over paying pennies to help refine your future audience targeting for years to come.
While I understand and love the direction the industry is going in regard to media viewability, I think only the inexperienced media strategists would make a mandate for 100% viewability knowing full well it presents a future opportunity. There are a lot of great things we can do with the audience data to make your media campaigns better, but we can’t give everything away, now can we?
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