Viewability Needs to Matter for all Advertisers, Big and Small

Viewability terms for digital advertisersI have been exposed to many advertisers who are pushing hard for 100% viewability terms for standard banner buys, which I saw referred to yesterday as a crisis by the IAB. In December, the IAB recommended 70% as the standard, but the large agencies are forcing 100% in their I/O terms, and they are having success obtaining it. Large media budgets, not surprisingly, can be the catalyst for change.  This level of change, though, is of a larger scale than we’ve seen before.

Beyond the suppliers who are the obvious party being squeezed is this scenario, the other disadvantaged party is the small advertisers. This segment is either buying their display direct with the DSPs and/or publishers or being represented by small agencies.  Neither has the wherewithal to fight with the same might as the large agencies can.

Assuming the average viewability for a publisher or DSP’s impressions is 60% (I am being generous) with the rest being fraudulent or not viewable, that is all the agencies requiring 100% viewability terms are going to pay for. In order to offset the loss of the 40%, the DSPs and publishers could decide to serve those non viewable impressions to anyone not tracking viewability and who hasn’t specified viewability terms in their I/Os.

It’s not to say that small agencies and advertisers can’t compete but many are not in the conversation.  Suppliers aren’t waving the red flag asking them to change I/Os based on viewability.  Similar to attribution technology, the minimums charged by the ad verification companies may be cost prohibitive on media buys aggregated across a small agency.  The IAB mentioned a recent proliferation of I/Os asking for 100% viewability terms which is consistent with policies that likely went into effect across the large agencies for 2015 media buys. This means the small advertisers and agencies need to act fast getting themselves up to speed and why the viewability “crisis” may actually impact the small advertisers and agencies the most whose display buys may about to start consisting mostly of junk.

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