The rise of viewability as the new currency of brand marketing has been hotly debated in recent years. Advertisers want to transact their media buys on the metric, believing that consumers won’t convert if they never see an ad. Even though the adoption of viewability offers the promise of better digital media campaign performance, it has also generated a number of challenges as the industry makes modifications to align itself with this new measurement standard.
Theorem conducted a study on behalf of Sublime Skinz in March 2016 in an effort to examine viewability as a measure of brand performance. The Viewability & Brand Metrics Study was designed to assess current views on the viewability standard as an effective engagement metric. The study was conducted with a panel comprised of US executives accounting for both agencies (buy side) and publishers (sell side) via a combination of quantitative and qualitative techniques.
The research confirmed what many in industry suspected: A majority of panelists are now using vCPM (viewable cost-per-thousand impressions) as a trading metric. But while viewability is an important step toward a new performance standard, it’s only the beginning in terms of measuring brand campaign performance. In fact, most panelists agreed that the current standards – and the almost myopic focus on viewability as the key metric – is impeding creative innovation, calling for as much focus on other brand metrics including engagement, brand lift and brand recall.
Since more of the innovative creative executions that are most effective for branding campaigns are non standard ads, panelists agreed that the baseline standards that exist today should be extended to address non standard executions. The study also found that a combination of low-intrusive, high-impact ads yield the best results for marketers. Yet while these units are seen as scalable, respondents reported they are reluctant to invest as much in them and to try these more innovative creative executions because they are not included in current standards.
Beyond the standards themselves, another key challenge to making the vCPM model work, according to panelists, is the measurement discrepancies that exist across vendors. Those discrepancies leave too much room for disagreement and can open the door to mistrust. Until there is more harmonization, transacting on viewability will be fraught with confusion and inefficiencies.
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