Viewable Impressions = Ad Industry Game Changer at #SESNY

Posted in SES New York

Welcome back to aimClear’s coverage of #SESNY 2012! “Are my customers’ eyes even seeing my ad?” That’s the question many digital marketers are starting to ask their agencies and publishers of their hefty-priced digital ads. Viewable impression is taking the industry be storm and making strides in making media accountable.

On Day 2 of Search Engine Strategies New York, Bianca Gardner, Associate Media Director of Digital Activation, Horizon Media, Marc Goldstein, CMO, Realvu and Lisa Valentino, Vice President of Digital and Mobile Advertising Sales, ESPN took the stage ready to tackle the tricky questions of knowing if your ad is getting the visibility promised and that you’re receiving the ad value you deserve. Read on for the full effect.

Marc took the lead by providing background on the dramatic shifts that took place when Nielsen changed their methodology from the TV viewing diary (ancient, yes) to electronic people meters and discussed how Nielsen made changes to Radio, out of home and national television measurement.

How Does Measurement Measure Up?
Measurement has changed for the better and has led to improved measurement methodologies that reflect consumption more accurately and that it improves all phases of the ad buying process – effectively making it more transparent.

Today, measurement is taken at the time of the commercial exposure, but that is where things get a little tricky with the word “impression.” In the world of digital media, ads and content is measured at the point the ad is called – not necessarily viewed. Ads SERVED does not equal IMPRESSIONS.

A viewable impression is measured when the ad has been appropriately rendered and 60 percent of the ad surface is within view of the user’s window for at least one second.  Viewable impressions are becoming more of an industry standard and Bain Consulting released a detailed report stating, “We need to move to a ‘viewable impressions’ standard and count real exposure online” – this has become a guiding principle according to Marc.

This has led to some changes and today, the IAB impression guidelines state, “At a point as late as possible in the process of delivery of the creative material to the user’s browser – therefore closest to the actual opportunity to be seen by the user.”

Marc laid out the top four reasons why ads served never appear to the viewer:

  1. The viewer clicks to another web page before the ad loads and renders.
  2. The ad loads, but in an area of the web page that is not within the viewer’s browser window dimensions and scrolling position.
  3. The request was made by a crawler or a mobile device that can’t render the ad as intended.
  4. The web page the ad appears on is not “in focus.”

The benefits of viewable impressions are outstanding with all panelists highly in favor of the change. They all expressed the great benefits of providing better assessment of paid campaigns, providing a better understanding of resources and knowing where ads perform at an optimum level.

Bianca went on to provide some great research. She explained that an MRC accredited study by RealVu showed that only 6 to 56 percent of campaign impressions are viewable – which means that click through reporting may be off by as much as 179 percent because click-through rates are based on impressions.

The benefits of switching to a viewable impression include:

  • Front to back end implications to planning, buying, optimizations
  • Attribution through real metrics – true value of display and role within attribution
  • Increased ad effectiveness and thus campaign performance
  • Overall greater digital accountability = growth

Next, it was time to bust a myth. First off, the belief that above the fold media always wins is FALSE. Users aren’t only viewing the top of the page, they are on the page to view content – so put the ads next to the content and you’ll see better results in viewable impressions.

“While viewable impression tracking is critical, without the tie in to attribution it is not fully actionable.” -Bianca Gardner

And we ended with some key takeaways. The implications to the current planning and buying landscape are huge with viewable impressions:

  • A close to the “endless supply” debate
  • Changes to operational considerations
  • Monetization shifts

Lisa rounded out the panel, providing the publishers perspective and explained that it’s important to intertwine messages/advertising within people’s activities to boost viewable impressions. For example:

  • By placing video ads within breaks
  • Having front door creative experiences
  • Placing programming around the “live” experience, like social integration and personalization
  • Story-boarding in apps

The media mix matters to drive the funnel or message. It’s important to mix ad buys in multiple channels, including: TV, online banners, homepage takeovers, online video, radio, magazines, mobile WAP and Mobile Apps.

And with that, the session came to a close! Big thanks to the fantastic panelists for their insight into the game-changing world of viewable impressions. Stick around on aimClear blog for more coverage coming from the last day at #SENSY 2012!