After two weeks in South Africa meeting our key clients and attending industry events it was inevitable that I was going to stumble onto the subject of viewability - one of the heads of the 'three-headed beast' of media - the other heads being brand safety and ad-fraud, which I will cover another time.
GroupM and its agencies have been championing viewability since 2014 around the world and it surprises me (albeit positively) that clients in South Africa are only now beginning to take it seriously. This late start could be as the market is only now becoming more mature and in its use of digital media. Visiting our Cape Town offices, with its high net worth of online retail clients, gave me a lot of confidence that as an industry we can collaborate together and make it a cleaner online market.
There is a high volume of mobile and social content consumption in the market, which gives us an opportunity to use these strong benchmarks to help ‘tidy up’ the marketplace for our clients - we owe it to them to provide this consultancy on top of the day job.
Mindshare will be moving more media investment away from publishers who do not support GroupM’s viewability standard. The ultimate goal is to trade on the GroupM standard and some markets have already started doing this. KFC/YUM is conducting a pilot to analyse the market through its bespoke trade desk, which we built one year ago to provide a view on current inventory and audiences. It is our fundamental belief that if an advertisement is not seen or cannot be seen, then it has no value. We are working towards a goal that if an ad is not seen (by a human) in the appropriate demographic and in a safe environment, then the client will not pay. This is helping to ‘clean up’ the publisher landscape we are leaning in and supporting local media owners by making recommendations, sharing learnings and ultimately helping them be more relevant and so whitelisted to be an authentic platform deemed honest for our clients. The message is crystal clear: Savings on non-viewable impressions and stronger partners:
We have saved clients millions of dollars by increasing viewability and reducing fraudulent impressions (invalid traffic must be excluded by MRC-accredited third-party vendors). Importantly, the fraudulent impressions we did not pay for are at no expense to our media partners because these impressions did not represent real visitors to their sites. Better brand metrics:
In Australia, where GroupM also has a higher-than-market viewability standard, new research (2017) conducted by Kantar Millward Brown and MOAT across an automotive campaign showed that when the target audience viewed just 50% of the car ad on screen for one second, aided brand awareness increased by 5.1%. However, when audiences saw the ads 100% in view for one second, a 10.3% increase incremental brand awareness was realised. This was double the incremental brand awareness due to 100% of the advertisement being in view. Sales impact:
Not surprisingly, when viewability increases, so does the potential to increase sales as the chart based on a client case study by comScore illustrates:
Remember, viewers can skip TV ads, flip past print ads or ignore radio ads. However, there are standards and measures that indicate the real opportunity to be seen, such as aided awareness print recall studies or intelligent people meters that know when you leave the room or are exposed to commercials in public settings. Whilst viewability for traditional media is difficult to define, in digital, it is precisely measurable and we can therefore hold digital to a higher standard.
We will certainly see that pushing on trading on 100% viewability will push up the price of media. Price can only be considered relative to the value delivered. Remember, an ad that cannot be seen has no value,
but clients are currently paying for non-viewable ads (outside of view or served to bots). It is deceitful and not how we should be progressing with the opportunities that online media brings to marketing media.
It will take time for publishers to deliver 100% of their ads to our viewability standards but in the meantime ask your agency partner to strive to optimise to the most viewable inventory and even do a CPM costs comparison if you had to not pay for non-viewed impressions, to see how would that look.