‘Too many vested interests here’: Viewability concerns still plague agencies daily

Last week, P&G’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard called time out on digital advertising’s free pass: As part of the advertiser’s four-step plan to clean up the “antiquated” world of media buying, P&G asked its agencies to abide by a universal viewability standard set by the Media Ratings Council.

But at London’s Westminster eForum on Thursday, agencies said addressing viewability is a daily chore that they can’t solve alone. For them, the responsibility of viewability falls at the door of multiple players. For some, the responsibility lies with the publishers; others say it’s down to the industry bodies to tighten up the ecosystem.

We canvassed a few of those in attendance for their take.

Pete Edwards, chief strategy officer at Engine UK
It has to change. It’s unacceptable, particularly in a channel that can and should be more measurable. Some large network organizations have an extremely strict approach, whereas some of the methodologies in place by the governing bodies are considerably lax. People are paying 100 percent for 50 percent of the impressions actually making a mark and being delivered to a human being. It’s an absolute nonsense, but there are too many vested interests here. We’ve been fiddling while Rome burns.

Lizzie Berwick, senior media account manager at MacCormack Media
I’m not sure how many of our clients are that concerned with viewability, but I think they should be. There’s still no industrywide measurement where we’re all singing off the same hymn sheet. On a daily basis, it means you can’t measure campaigns in the same way, so if we’re using one ad network they’re saying there’s this much viewability and then we’re looking at Digital Cinema Media and they’re saying something different. Nothing matches up. To make it work across the board for everyone, we need something from an industry body or some higher power to make it work.

Nam-Anh Tran, web analyst at Periscopix
The industry needs to move toward greater transparency. Third-party viewability companies offer metrics like the total viewable time before a conversion, and that is useful for us, but we can’t action it because we can’t target based on how long people view the display. With DSPs, everyone has their own measure so there are no standards about what’s viewable and what’s not. Who do you trust when different providers use different calculations? Change around viewability needs come from the publisher side. There hasn’t been much incentive for them to provide much viewability metrics, but I think as soon as some move toward that, the other publishers will have to follow suit to stay competitive.

Heather Iqbal, digital account executive at Portland Communications
This idea that viewability means getting really wide reach and loads of people is a bit old fashioned. We have made an effort to look at as many metrics as possible because it’s dangerous to depend on one piece of software. Digital is moving so quickly, but people are falling into a certain way of working where they say, “This is what we’ve done for the past two years,” but now that way of working has already become outdated. So on issues like this it is about being proactive. What’s promising is that there’s a lot more collaboration.


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