Should Viewability Standard Just Be A Jumping Off Point?

Chris CrumAdvertising

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As you know, the issue of ad viewability can be a contentious one among advertisers, agencies, and publishers, and we recently looked at this from various angles based on what such parties have been saying in the media.

Some of that contention is related to the industry standard that calls for desktop display ads to be considered viewable if 50% of their pixels are in view for a minimum of one second (for larger units it's 30% for one second).

Ted Dhanik, CEO of digital advertising company engage:BDR shares some thoughts.

"The industry-accepted standard for viewability, set by the 3MS, is an important step in the pursuit of heightened ad quality across the board, and adoption of it is necessary for players in our space," he tells WebProNews. "However, at engage:BDR, we don't believe that the conversation ends there. We encourage advertisers and publishers to use this standard as a beginning, and transact on metrics that push for heightened engagement."

He says the definitions set by organizations like the Marketing Research Council and the Interactive Advertising Bureau are a "good start" and are "much needed by the industry," but that they aren't a full solution, but rather "a good jumping off point."

"The conversation needs to include what happens after a minimum standard is reached," he says. "In our eyes, that minimum standard is great for establishing a human user. However, vendors need to offer solutions that answer needs past that- perhaps an advertiser wants to pay only for views exceeding five seconds, or perhaps they believe true engagement must include 100% of pixels."

Dhanik doesn't think pushing for a stricter standard is the right way to go, but rather that advertisers and publishers "need to address other factors in the conversation around viewability, so that whether or not an ad met the minimum standard is not the only measure of success."

He thinks advertisers should push to buy ads at a higher threshold based on their creative.

"No one is going to fully consume the content of an ad at one second, and if they do, they certainly won't recall it," he says. "Advertisers should set the threshold based on the content of their creative. A simple creative might be great at a three-second minimum, but for a pharmaceutical brand, who has a lot of details to include, you might want to buy 20-second slots."

According to Dhanik, publishers can optimize content to create ad engagement and monetize at a higher rate, even for below-the-fold placements.

"As we all know, content is king," he says. "Publishers who provide high-quality content below the fold will be able to monetize those spaces better than ever before, since viewers will be spending time there, and we are now able to measure that and provide our publishers with appropriate rates."

He says he has nothing but respect for the 3MS, noting that the association "established something groundbreaking in our industry."

"I see a heavy push from advertisers and agencies asking for higher time thresholds, as well as full units on screen, but we wouldn't even be having that conversation without the 3MS," he adds.

One of the biggest issues about viewability is that there has been a lot of confusion surrounding it. We recently looked at an infographic from The Mobile Majority focusing on clarifying mobile viewability. Check that out here.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.