Q: Is “Viewability” ready to be used as a measurement of ad performance?
A: IDG believes that viewability is a measure of ROI more than a measure of performance. Similar to the statements that IAB has made, performance is what happens after the impression is viewed and is measured by metrics like CTR and post click conversion. If publishers like IDG can report higher viewability, marketers should be more comfortable with that investment.
However, the issue of fraud continues to be quite relevant when discussing viewability. It is usually assumed that, if an ad is viewed, it is being viewed by a human. Non-human traffic—which includes bots, click farms and other networks—can account for 30% of a digital ad campaign. So, if we expect more dollars to continue to flow into the digital space, we will need to address this in a much more measured and standardized manner.
Q: How do you work to ensure that ads are viewable and to provide marketers with appropriate and accurate measures for the performance of their digital advertising?
A: With the launch of IDG’s CMS, Apollo, and the new designs of our websites (CIO.com, NetworkWorld.com), we address the viewability issue by lazy loading the ads, and as long as the user is scrolling the content, we continue to load additional ads at specific intervals. This not only achieves a higher viewability and engagement rate but also results in reduced page load time for a better user experience.
We have also partnered with an MRC-certified company (MOAT) to measure and report on the viewability of the ads. This tool also allows us to monitor user habits and dial in the loading and placement of ads to obtain the highest viewability possible. The industry doesn’t have the tools yet to ensure that every ad served for a particular customer are viewed, but we can do our best to make sure our ad units don’t trigger impressions when not viewed.
Q: Is achieving a standardized measure and method for viewability important?
A: Standard units of measure are still an issue in our space. Reporting platforms often use their own algorithms when they count, and discrepancies between systems are common and, in many cases, just accepted. This new metric (viewability) will experience the same challenges, but organizations like the IAB and MRC are trying to alleviate and solve this the best they can.
If we are held financially accountable for viewable impressions served, we need to ensure that buyers and sellers are all counting the same way. There is a lot of work to be done here when it comes to standardized expectations that the publishers, clients, agencies and governing bodies all agree upon. Ultimately, this is still a moving target, but IDG, via our new CMS and site redesigns, is proactively addressing the issue.
Michael Friedenberg is CEO of IDG Communications Worldwide, the subsidiary for IDG’s B2B and consumer media brands and events in 86 countries. He was promoted from CEO, IDG Communications U.S. to worldwide CEO in 2013.
Prior to Friedenberg’s latest promotion, he was CEO and President of IDG Enterprise, an IDG company that develops strategic media properties and peer advisory services for IT executives. Friedenberg joined IDG in 2005 as president and CEO of CXO Media following a series of management positions at UBM (formerly CMP Media) including Vice President and Publisher of InformationWeek and, later, Vice President and Group Publisher of the InformationWeek Media Network and Co-Founder of Optimize. As VP/Group Publisher, Friedenberg set the vision, strategy, and positioning of multiple brands across print, online, events, and research services.