The big problem advertisers have assessing the value of video viewability is that the metric means something different every time it's used.
Publicis Groupe digital buying hub VivaKi hopes it can promise clients across its media-agency siblings a single definition for viewability by using video ad server Vindico's verification tool, AdTricity, for all video ad buys.
"We're working with other agencies and holding companies, but this case is the first one where AdTricity is covering all of a holding company's media agencies," said Matt Timothy, Vindico's president.
VivaKi’s Audience On Demand (AOD) trading desk got “seriously focused” on programmatic video in mid-2010, said AOD global President Kurt Unkel. "Among the challenges we had was how to aggregate enough inventory to make it meaningful, and then, how to get quality not just quantity," he explained. "We'd been looking for technology to sift through what's good and what's not so we would have greater confidence in what we're buying in the video space specifically."
AOD wanted to ensure that for video placements purchased on exchanges, the video player size or the content surrounding the ad was presented as promised.
VivaKi chose AdTricity, which was introduced in March, because Publicis-owned MediaVest had been using Vindico as one of its primary ad servers since 2006. Additionally, Vindico has pushed deeper into programmatic while shifting away from its video ad network roots. That stance matches up well with the wider embrace of automation by the ad holding companies, such as Publicis.
As viewability and verification become huge concerns for agencies and their brand advertiser clients, Vindico is looking to solidify its position as competition heats up from a number of brand-safety players, such as Integral Ad Science, Double Verify and Moat, as well as the main audience measurement providers, Nielsen and comScore, with their respective Online Campaign Ratings and validated Campaign Essentials viewability products.
While VivaKi isn't going to rely on AdTricity alone for viewability verification, it will offer what Unkel described as a critical layer for all video ad clients, whether for branding, direct response or some hybrid of the two.
"We want to continue to leverage the technology on all the sources of inventory we're seeing, and there are ways that people are learning on every campaign that they do," he said. "This is all about being able to get clearer visibility about what's actually going on when and where we place an ad."
Unkel also noted the amount of work to be done on "illuminating" the video marketplace when it comes to what is being actually bought and sold.
"We're still in the midst of a lot of people selling things that don't turn out to be what they seem," Unkel said. "There's a large contingent of media buyers out there who still think they can get a guaranteed, in-demo player for $5. AdTricity can show what actually would result with that kind of buy before the button is pushed. That will help demystifying the programmatic video space for a lot of entities on the demand side."
AdTricity will look to add real-time blocking features that prevent an ad from being served unless it meets the client's specific criteria. Although it has the capability now, Timothy is uncertain of demand for that feature. As the space matures and clients realize what else can be accomplished with prebid functions, blocking out certain placements will be formally rolled out.