Meeting Minimum Viewability Standards Ignores 98% Engagement; Q&A with Dave Jacobs, 33Across

In order for publishers to be competitive and drive revenue for success, as well as for marketers to better engage with their consumers, viewability of high-quality, scalable advertising continues to be important to both. Dave Jacobs (pictured below), COO, 33Across, explains that while viewability standards in the industry are being addressed, there is more work to be done to include time in-view to drive the highest engagement for marketers.

ExchangeWire: What does 33Across do and what are some of the biggest publisher challenges that you’re able to help solve? 

Dave Jacobs: 33Across is a publisher technology platform that powers quality publishers to earn revenue, optimise yield, and gain actionable insights. With an industry push towards better metrics and transparency, viewable formats solve for many pain points the marketplace faces. 33Across formats are highly viewable across both mobile and desktop, helping publishers deliver on the demand for quality ads. With a combination of ad formats that deliver high value, unique data, and curated demand, 33Across allows publishers to maximise earnings.

What do you think the future of publishing looks like over the next two years?

The means by which publishers generate traffic to their sites will continue to evolve. Few could have predicted the reliance many publishers have today on Facebook traffic; which is similar to the reliance publishers have had on traffic from Google in the past. While addiction to traffic generation firehoses can be dangerous, it does allow for those companies that focus on the consumer experience to ultimately benefit in the long term.

We expect to see publishers take control of their role in the digital advertising supply chain through initiatives sponsored by the IAB such as Ads.txt. This is an example of increasing industry standards being shaped and ratified in an effort to increase transparency and accountability. Some additional standards include the IAB’s new mobile metrics as well as the MRC’s Digital Audience Based Measurement Standards.

To your point about standards, what is your take on the MRC’s viewability standards?

The advertising industry’s viewability benchmark is based on the MRC definition of viewable impressions. Specifically, the MRC deems a display ad impression as viewable as long as 50% of its pixels are in view for a minimum of one second. While everybody agrees that having a highly viewable ad is a critical element of a campaign, the current MRC’s minimum standard does not fully take into account the value generated based on the time the creative is in view. We recently conducted a time-in-view study to track ad performance over time to map when a user engaged with an ad, as defined by when a user clicked. According to our analysis, campaigns that meet the MRC minimum viewability standard may miss out on 98% of user engagement, since they occur after one second.  In fact, among the ads that were clicked, 50% occurred on a desktop after 15 seconds.

How do you think the role of time in view plays in the viewability equation?

If a marketer’s main metric is viewability based on the MRC’s definition, and 98% of engagement on a desktop occurs after the first second of an ad being in view, there is minimal chance that a user will engage with an ad. High viewability alone, without a significant time in view, is not sufficient enough to drive engagement.

Marketers should expand their requirements to include both average viewability as well as average time-in-view metrics for campaigns across all devices. Having both metrics gives marketers campaign insights to make more intelligent decisions. Deeper performance insights can help determine the optimal viewability and time-in-view thresholds depending on the campaign goal.

What can 33Across’ research tell us about the ideal time in view for engagement? 

Dave Jacobs, COO, 33Across

Campaigns with in-view times of at least 15 seconds and 30 seconds will be positioned for success. The first 15 seconds of time-in-view showed the most significant rate of change for engagement performance. In the analysis, over half of engagement occurs within 30 seconds of the ad being in view. When an ad is in view between 30 and 60 seconds, the engagement continues to steadily increase, though at a slower pace.

Does engagement differ on desktop versus mobile or tablet?

Yes. Our analysis revealed that among the ads that were clicked, 50% occurred on a desktop after 15 seconds. Similar levels of engagement on mobile and tablet devices occurred after seven seconds. By the 30-second mark, 68% of engagement occurred on a desktop, 74% occurred on mobile, and 78% occurred on a tablet. At the 60-second mark, 75% occurred on desktop, 81% occurred on mobile, 82% occurred on tablet.

Do you think the viewability concerns in the industry are being addressed in the right way? What are some of the bigger issues that still need to be tackled?

As an industry, we have come a long way when it comes to addressing the challenges of viewability, though as our data highlights, there is room for improvement. Publishers need the ability to leverage high-quality and high-performing creatives at scale so they can generate the revenues necessary. The combination of high-performing creatives at scale that also stay in view and deliver results for marketers, will ultimately lead to a deeper connection with consumers, while providing the publisher with the revenue needed in today’s publishing environment.

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