It’s time for SA’s digital media industry to have a serious conversation about ad viewability

!cid_image001_jpg@01D0BDC0South African marketers, agencies and publishers that are serious about helping to grow the accountability of digital advertising should embrace a shift in the international market from served ad impressions to viewable impressions.

That’s according to Johan Walters, Digital Marketing Specialist at 25AM, who says that it’s time for South Africa’s digital media and marketing sector to follow international trends and start talking more about the viewability of digital ads. “With major digital marketing vendors such as DoubleClick providing the tools to measure viewable ads and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Media Rating Council (MRC) promoting the metric, South Africa’s industry should also get on board,” he adds.

“Promoting this metric can help brands to drive better return on investment (ROI) from their campaigns and enable publishers to drive premium pricing for certain inventory. We see the international move towards reporting on the viewability of ads as a significant step towards a more mature and accountable digital advertising market.”

The advent of viewable impressions answers common frustrations of publishers and advertisers alike, says Walters. It addresses the concern that many advertisers have that they are paying for ad impressions that are not always seen by users. For publishers, a shift to viewable impressions addresses the devaluation of parts of their inventory, for example ad impressions below the fold. It helps them to show advertisers that their money is well-spent because people are seeing their ads.

The standard for viewable ad impressions is as follows: a minimum of 50% of pixels in view for a minimum of 1 second for standard display ads. These standards give publishers, agencies, and brands a concrete way to compare and measure ad viewability across different environments.

In time, viewability will shift from being a measurement to a transactional currency in digital advertising, says Walters. But its immediate impact is to help brands and agencies to be more informed in their media planning since they will be able to gravitate to the placements and environments that offer the best viewability for their ads.

Premium publishers will benefit from the trend, provided they ensure that their ads are viewable, Walters adds. Around 56% of ad impressions served worldwide are viewable, according to DoubleClick measurements. This is an important fact for both publishers and marketers alike since an ad impression that is served but not viewed is inefficient for both.

“The shift towards trading viewable impressions will take some time, but leading agencies and publishers are already investing in the tools they need to value, trade, serve and optimise to viewable impressions,” says Walters. “The trend will benefit everyone in the ecosystem by making ad trades more transparent and boost ROI for advertisers.”