"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Jon Heller, co-CEO and co-founder at FreeWheel.
When the MRC recently announced it had lifted its advisory on viewable impressions for display advertising, it noted that enhancements to standards on viewable video impressions are also in the works. In considering any forthcoming action, I encourage the MRC to remember that the digital video advertising market is far from homogenous.
It’s bifurcated into two markets: in-stream advertising inserted into premium TV-quality content and video advertising that is more akin to display. Before removing the advisory on video, it’s important to consider the unique dynamics and challenges of each segment and how they will be impacted by a viewability standard.
The premium video segment of the market is, by its nature, less prone to produce nonviewable inventory because its ads run before or in-stream with highly desired content. Due to its supply-constrained nature, the segment also possesses a very high cost for wasted inventory.
A number of criteria need to be met before viewability is ready to be applied to transactional currencies for the premium segment of the video market:
Cross-screen: To support cross-screen transactions, explicit provisions need to be made for nonbrowser environments, such as mobile apps, OTT boxes such as Roku or AppleTV, game consoles and connected TVs, all of which comprise more than 14% of IP connected premium video traffic and are growing at more than 200% year over year. Failure to support these environments will result in undue workflow complexity and inventory fragmentation.
Syndication: In order for media buyers to access premium TV inventory across devices, viewability measurement technology must accommodate campaign measurement regardless of where content runs. IAB video ad serving standards must be updated to accommodate viewable impression recording so that viewable impressions can be determined when serving ads into syndicated environments.
Predictability: To facilitate reliable forecasting and reporting, all opportunity for interpretation needs to be removed from the specification. There are several areas of the specification that are either too open to interpretation, such as the excessive use of “may,” or provide more than one way to deem ad impressions as viewable.
Scalability: Before inserting viewable impressions as a currency metric in an $8 billion market, the specification needs to be in place with enough lead time to allow vendors from across the ecosystem to accommodate the notion of a viewable impression in a scalable way.
Until the above criteria have been met and guidelines are in place for transacting on viewable impressions, the MRC advisory on using the viewability standard as transactional currency should not be lifted for the premium video segment. In the meantime, the adoption of viewable impressions for premium video should be limited to an insight measurement to provide transparency into performance.