This week’s post is contributed by Victor Gamez, Content Marketing Manager, Oracle Data Cloud.
Believe it or not, it wasn’t always hard to “figure out” the viewability rates of mobile in-app ads.
When the Media Ratings Council (MRC) first set out its guidelines for desktop viewability in 2014, they noted that viewability, in general, was always assumed to be 100 percent.
Of course, the truth is different. The MRC eventually acknowledged in a 2015 communication on mobile viewability guidelines that mobile measurement—both on web browsers and in-application—is a more complex beast.
Getting a grip on mobile measurement is a trickier task than expected for the media industry as a whole.
It’s a story of changing user behaviors, exponential growth for mobile, the rise of opportunity in digital video, a proliferation of mobile ad environments, and competing standards.
In the end, it means the industry needs a simple, meaningful way to evaluate video ad experiences—no matter where they happen.
Mobile becomes more important as the time we spend with smaller screens explodes; in 2017, U.S. adults spent more than 900 percent additional time on mobile than they did in 2008, according to eMarketer.
It’s no surprise that mobile continues to capture additional ad dollars. In the first half of 2017, mobile received the majority of advertising revenue, according to the IAB and PwC.
That growth is particularly high in mobile video.
Between 2011 and 2017, daily time spent by U.S. adults with mobile video grew by a staggering almost 1,000 percent, eMarketer found.
Naturally, greater spend comes with larger demand for measuring value.
For many in the industry, “viewability”—or how often someone had the chance to see an ad—is a sticking point.
When it comes to delivering quality, viewability is a great start to meeting the challenges of inconsistent ad experiences and a lack of standards.
The principle behind viewability—if the ad is not there, it has no value—is perfectly valid. But when looking only at viewability, the problem is twofold.
First, a viewable ad experience doesn’t mean it was a valuable one. It just means someone had a chance to see the ad. Second, there is disagreement over what it means to “be there” on digital.
In 2015, the MRC set guidelines for video ad viewability (“being there”)—50 percent of the ad on the screen for two seconds—but that didn’t end the debate.
Today, different agencies, brands, and ad sellers insist on their own definitions for viewable video.
One definition (let’s say, A) is that the video is fully in-view and audible for half of the video, and the user must press play instead of an auto start.
Another definition (call it B) is that 80 percent of the player is on the screen and audible for half the ad duration (or for 15 seconds, if the ad is longer than 30 seconds).
The difference in definition could mean a lot. For example, according to Moat’s analysis of billions of impressions online, 54.7 percent of video ads on the mobile web were viewable under the MRC definition in Q4 2017.
But under definitions A and B, it’s 41.2 percent and 37.4 percent, respectively. For mobile in-app video, the differences among those figures are even starker: 50.1, 15.9, and 14.7 percent, respectively.
And there’s the issue of trying to apply viewability to a landscape with no shortage of mobile video viewing environments.
Here’s a look at the possible video ad experiences someone can have:
These scenarios do not mention the growing desire for cross-device video ad buying.
With competing viewability definitions, and so many different video ad formats, mobile is now a conundrum for brands and buyers wanting a campaign to run not only on mobile screens, but also on TV and desktop.
One way to think beyond viewability is to reflect on how people pay attention to offline video.
Take a traditional TV ad, for example. When an audience is watching TV, we know the commercial takes up the full screen, plays audio throughout, and tells a story for up to 30 seconds.
It’s an ad format that can be effective at holding our attention. It’s partly why when we see the phrase “classic TV ads,” images like a popular soda company’s polar bears or an insurance company’s Gecko come to mind.
And it’s why brands tell us TV works—they still spend an incredible amount of money on TV, and have done so for a long time.
We developed a 0 to 100 metric, the Moat Video Score, in consideration of existing viewability metrics and from reflections on how ads work on TV. The metric is based on:
Our data shows it’s hard to achieve a 100 and you shouldn’t expect to do so.
Our latest Moat benchmarks showed mobile in-app video had an average Moat Video Score of 54—it’s 15 for mobile web.
We suggest advertisers remember their goals when looking at inventory. For instance, a brand awareness campaign for a new product might merit eyeing higher Moat Video Score environments.
The score’s purpose is not to categorize inventory as “good” or “bad,” but to characterize the difference in experiences across the web.
With this new characterization, we have a new lens through which we can understand a digital video exposure. For the first time, there’s a video metric to compare exposures across all platforms.
We have definitions of “reach” that make more sense. And we have clarity for marketers to ensure they are buying the right exposures to most effectively tell their stories.
About Victor Gamez
Victor is the content marketing manager at Moat, an analytics and advertising measurement firm in the Oracle Data Cloud.
Prior to Moat, Victor provided guidance to marketing executives through original research at Percolate.