Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the amount of marketing budget which is now being spent on digital technologies – £7.2bn in the UK last year and counting – most advertisers are starting to demand exactly how their digital spend is performing.
It will only take one major advertiser to shift its spend to start the exodus; the need for real transparency and accountability have never been more crucial. So why is the industry dragging its feet?
In a recent report by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), almost two-thirds of respondents said they were prepared to alter their advertising spend if they don’t get the independent viewability figures they want. A shocking 90% said they that they were not confident that industry standards were currently being met on viewability.
Concerns grew over viewability last year when it was revealed by German ad verification company Meetrics that only 49% of online ads met the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) standard – that 50% of an ad must be in view for at least one second.
Viewability stats vary from vendor to vendor, making it impossible for marketers to check on how their adverts are performing. Up until now the media industry has been making a tepid approach to sorting the situation out. But advertisers still have to struggle with the diversity of reporting methodologies provided by ad tech companies accredited by the Media Rating Council (MRC), which now numbers 20.
While the MRC accreditation has been talked up by sectors of the industry, The Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards in the UK and Ireland (Jicwebs) and ABC, the independent auditing watchdog, have spotlighted certain discrepancies in the measurements being offered.
Respondents to a study we carried out for advertising technology company InSkin found that inconsistency of measurement across vendor solutions was at the very epicenter of producing real inconsistencies in viewability scores. Of those FaR surveyed, it was rated as being central ( 8.3 out of 10 in terms of importance) to future digital marketing strategies.
The general feeling is that the IAB’s viewability standard provides a basic foundation and does not work across all ad formats and platforms. This means we really are some way off creating standards and consistency of measurement tools to enable a solid vCPM model.
Isn’t it is time for the industry to start to work to create a viewability standard that advertisers trust? After all, if this disconnect can’t be fixed, advertisers will start to vote with their feet – don’t say you haven’t been warned…
Dominic Finney is managing director at FaR Partners (a Theorem Digital company)