In recent years the various participants in the online ad industry have bickered over “viewability”: webpages are usually bigger than the screens they are viewed on, so if a reader sees only part of an ad on his screen, for a fraction of a second, how much should the advertiser pay? The Media Rating Council (MRC), which sets the rules for audience measurement, now considers a display ad “viewable” if a consumer can see half of it for at least one second.
GroupM, a buyer of ad slots on behalf of consumer brands, considers an ad viewable only if the consumer can see all of it. A registry of vetted online-ad firms and use special identifiers to track which firms get paid for each impression, the better to trace problems as they arise. AppNexus, which runs a big ad exchange, filters out ad slots that seem to be attracting lots of fake “readers”, offers rebates to advertisers which detect bot fraud and has cut the number of ad impressions sold by middlemen.
Meanwhile ad-blocking apps will impose broad costs on publishers, estimated by Wells Fargo at $4.6 billion in America and $12.5 billion globally this year.
“We haven’t had this kind of transformation since television came in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s,” says Marc Pritchard, the marketing boss at Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest advertiser.
Rob Norman, GroupM’s chief digital officer, expects advertisers to continue shifting towards large platforms such as Google and Facebook, and a select group of firms that agree to stricter standards on viewability.
Online advertising has, for the most part, been a sham when you consider that 98% of users don’t click on ads. Marketers need to work with online platforms to define success, but continued research still indicates that branded websites have a higher ROI than online ads. Consumers are sick and tired of being interrupted while online and part of the reason is that a lot of them are paying hefty prices for broadband Internet at home and mobile services as carriers shift more cost to consumers.
Online ads should be tested, optimized and deployed by real people not software. Put as much as effort as you can into developing creative for online ads as off line ads.