This is the second article in a three-part series examining the digital media industry’s challenges to balance the need for buying efficiency with the drive for quality ad placements. The first article examined the efforts of startup RealVu to identify quality impressions and the second article delved into separating good from bad impressions on ad exchanges.
A year ago, MSNBC.com went against conventional wisdom in the industry by deliberately decreasing the number of ads it would serve. The bet was it could promote quality by eliminating cheap banners, like the ones publishers often litter on the bottom of pages and offload to ad networks and exchanges. So far, MSNBC has been out on its own.
When MSNBC.com first unvelied its overhaul last June, a few things immediately marked the site an as anomaly. There were no gimmicks designed to drive up page views, because page views didn’t matter. Instead, the site was designed to encourage users to stick around longer by delivering everything they might want — text, photos and video — all within the same experience, rather than relegating different media types to different sections.
There are signs of movement in that direction. The biggest trade organizations in the business — the Association of National Advertisers, the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Interactive Advertising Bureau — are pushing the industry to focus on viewable ad impressions. That Making Measurement Make Sense initiative could give rise to a formal certification process, although many publishers will likely resist any standards that impinge on their individuality. Few, when contacted by Digiday, even wanted to discuss the issue.
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