“Over the last few years there have been some doubts raised over the qual­ity of cer­tain in­ven­tory, es­pe­cially when it comes to new ways of buy­ing au­di­ences through ad net­works and bid­dable plat­forms.”

Ryan Mur­doch, head of data and an­a­lyt­ics at Star­com MENA, talks ad viewa­bil­ity.

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE - Ryan Mur­doch is head of data and an­a­lyt­ics at Star­com MENA

Dig­i­tal in­vest­ment has seen a me­te­oric rise in the past decade for ob­vi­ous rea­sons, es­pe­cially in the MENA re­gion with the abil­ity to be fully ac­count­able and mea­sur­able. How­ever, over the last few years there have been some doubts raised over the qual­ity of cer­tain in­ven­tory, es­pe­cially when it comes to new ways of buy­ing au­di­ences through ad net­works and bid­dable plat­forms.

This has re­sulted in ‘ ad viewa­bil­ity’ be­com­ing one of the big­gest buzz­words thrown around the dig­i­tal in­dus­try in the past few years, and for good rea­son. With the ad­vent of new tech­nol­ogy that en­ables us to track and mea­sure which ads have the abil­ity to be viewed, we are work­ing closely with clients and pub­lish­ers to drive bet­ter ac­count­abil­ity from dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing.

Ad viewa­bil­ity refers specif­i­cally to the view­ing of a dig­i­tal ad im­pres­sion by an on­line user. The gen­eral as­sump­tion is that ev­ery im­pres­sion counted is an im­pres­sion seen. How­ever, as a re­sult of the way in which dig­i­tal ad­ver­tise­ments are dis­trib­uted, there is a large num­ber of ads that are not seen, and the num­ber is sig­nif­i­cant.

So what qual­i­fies for a view­able im­pres­sion? Al­though ac­tively de­bated within the in­dus­try, the ar­bi­trary stan­dard is that the ad is at least 50 per cent view­able for a min­i­mum of one sec­ond, as de­fined by the ‘Mak­ing Mea­sure­ment Make Sense’ (3MS) ini­tia­tive. Global stud­ies have shown that typ­i­cally any­where be­tween 40 and 60 per cent of ads bought are not actually seen by on­line users. Most of these can be clas­si­fied as lessthan-pre­mium net­work and bid­dable buys, in which me­dia plan­ners and buy­ers have had less con­trol over the place­ment of their ads in ex­change for more ef­fi­cient rates.

Ad viewa­bil­ity dis­cus­sions have been well-doc­u­mented else­where but Publi­cis Me­dia set out to cre­ate the first com­pre­hen­sive study con­ducted in the Mid­dle East. The goal was not only to un­der­stand the scale of the is­sue but also put in place a pro­gramme that sup­ports trans­parency and value for our clients in the re­gion.

Over the past two years, we have an­a­lysed bil­lions of im­pres­sions across a huge num­ber of cam­paigns and pub­lish­ers with a range of re­sults when it comes to site per­for­mance mea­sured against ad viewa­bil­ity. This has en­abled us to not only look at spe­cific pub­lisher per­for­mance but also un­der­stand any in­dus­try trends that are hap­pen­ing across the MENA re­gion. We typ­i­cally look at it through three lenses: across pub­lisher ver­ti­cal, site level and per­for­mance over time.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, cer­tain types of sites per­form bet­ter than oth­ers. We clas­si­fied sites into four groups: global pub­lish­ers, re­gional pub­lish­ers, bid­dable plat­forms and net­works; and what we see is a slid­ing scale in terms of per­for­mance. Over the last 24 months, there has been a marked im­prove­ment from bid­dable plat­forms and re­gional pub­lish­ers with both hav­ing a 10 to 12 per cent per­cent­age points in­crease in ad viewa­bil­ity from 2014 to 2016 (YTD). In the case of bid­dable plat­forms, this can be par­tially at­trib­uted to the abil­ity to now ex­clu­sively pay for in­ven­tory that is 100 per cent view­able. How­ever, this comes at a pre­mium. We are also work­ing closely with key pub­lish­ers to drive the agenda us­ing ad viewa­bil­ity on mea­sure­ment whereby we can now eval­u­ate pub­lisher per­for­mance on a new scale to pro­vide even greater value to our clients.

While we have seen a marked im­prove­ment over the last two years in the MENA re­gion, to re­ally see a steep change in per­for­mance it heav­ily re­lies on pub­lish­ers in terms of how they con­struct and sell ad­ver­tis­ing on their web­site to mit­i­gate against non-view­able for­mats.

A great ex­am­ple of this is The Tele­graph in the United King­dom, which has be­come the first me­dia owner to of­fer ad­ver­tis­ers the pos­si­bil­ity of 100 per cent view­able ads on its site. This works by hav­ing a sin­gle ad­vert ap­pear on the right­hand side of branded con­tent pages, re­plac­ing all com­mer­cial place­ments on the right­hand rail with a sin­gle ro­tat­ing sticky ad­vert. As users scroll down a page, the cam­paign re­mains vis­i­ble as the con­tent changes.

It’s clear from the analysis that there is still some work to be done across the in­dus­try but it’s fair to say that the MENA re­gion no longer lags be­hind our global coun­ter­parts when it comes to ad viewa­bil­ity.

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