Although an industrywide video viewability standard has not yet materialized, players in the digital ecosystem are making progress.
As a marketer, “you need to make sure an ad was viewed and we know we will never make video profitable on a click-only basis no matter what KPI we’re using,” remarked DJ Harman, online marketing manager for Hotels.com.
Hotels.com – which leverages video demand-side platform TubeMogul for its programmatic video buys and which works with MDC Partners agency Assembly, formerly TargetCast, for direct buys – plans to leverage open viewability audits from TubeMogul.
“It won’t be the sole source of data for that acceptance window, but [will help to] define it for sure,” Harman acknowledged.
TubeMogul, along with competing vendors BrightRoll, Innovid, LiveRail and SpotXchange, is part of a 24-vendor consortium dubbed “OpenVideoView.” The OpenVV consortium, founded by TubeMogul last spring, is seeking to standardize an online video viewability metric through the development of an open-source solution for ad viewability.
The first agency to join the effort was VivaKi in February.
On the heels of TubeMogul’s launch of a viewability reporting feature for its customers in January, the company has introduced the new viewability verification audits as a self-serve option to customers and non-customers alike.
The site-level video viewability reports are free and can be applied to direct publisher pre-roll buys or other inventory sources like ad networks and exchanges. An advertiser or agency can essentially load a VAST or VPAID tag from their server and TubeMogul hands a tag back in which to use for the ad serve.
For advertisers without an ad server, there is an option to upload a video and gain surveying and viewability metrics through a VAST tag TubeMogul serves back, according to Brett Wilson, TubeMogul’s CEO.
Although the benefit to TubeMogul would seem obvious, Wilson claims “we just want to accelerate the path to a standard by making the tags available to all … the common execution of viewability is you kind of get a campaign rating of A, B, C or D from your ad server, but marketers want viewability metrics at the site level to use data to improve the campaign and be constantly iterating.”
Having an exact percentage of viewable impressions on inventory is much more valuable than letter ratings, Hotels.com’s Harman said.
“Having that data to optimize against is big and being able to hone in on the wasted impressions and effectively eliminate them from the buy in what is a more expensive medium is worth a lot to us,” he said. “We’re big believers in programmatic. … We kind of dipped our toe into programmatic video last year and will do so in a bigger way this year.”
As for headway in reaching a video viewability standard, both Harman and Wilson are optimistic. But the area is still rife with challenges. Most prominent is the in-market discrepancies between viewability methodology.
For instance, some companies count a video as viewable when it’s muted; others don't. Some stick to the MRC-derived figure, which calls for viewability for a one-second minimum for 50% of the ad. Others prefer a higher threshold, such as five seconds, or 100% of the ad.
“It’s still really a patchwork of proprietary standards, but we’re getting there,” Wilson said.