Viewability Plus Intent = Genuine Value

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The search for more and more data about our customers was the ad-tech industry’s primary focus for many years, but these days, data quantity is not our problem; that was last year’s buzzword and has become this years “issue.” Now it’s time to figure out how to ensure the quality of that data.

As Jack Marshall noted in a Wall Street Journal article, “marketers have serious doubts about the accuracy of some of the data they purchase from these vendors. The information is expensive, they say, and it frequently doesn’t deliver the improved performance it purports to.”

Viewability is the “new” metric that many marketers are asking for to bring some accountability to the media transaction process. Viewability was brought into the industry spotlight in 2011 by the IAB, along with ANA and 4As, as part of cross-organization effort to improve the state of marketing measurement overall. This industry consortium determined that it was vital to shift our pricing models from served impressions to viewed impressions, and established a viewability standard: for desktop display, 50% of pixels must be in view for a minimum of one second, and for desktop video, 50% of pixels must be in view for 2 seconds, and for larger desktop ad units, 30% of pixels must be in view for 1 second.

This makes sense in theory; after all, who cares if the ad was served if it wasn’t seen? Not to mention, it brought some transparency to the ad targeting and serving process, allowing advertisers to better ensure the quality of the traffic and ad inventory they were buying. However, as the industry has latched onto the viewability metric as the most important measurement, many commonly make the mistake of reducing the more complex process of using data to target and deliver relevant ads.

But Who’s Viewing You?
Don’t get me wrong; measurement has always been a concern and discussion point of the advertising industry, and viewability as a metric has definitely made a difference in improving efficiency and helping marketers make smarter decisions. Unfortunately, however, simply measuring viewability doesn’t necessarily ensure high engagement rates. It’s a great first step to know your ad was seen by a user, but you also need to know that the ad was served to the right user, the user most likely buy your product.

That’s the “dirty little secret” of the data world—despite industry awareness of the problem, advertisers are not always getting the customers they have contracted for as part of their audience segments. Additionally, publishers do not always have the latest up to date information of their segments.

Intent Data Makes Viewability More Valid
So, to truly maximize your revenue/ROI, it is not only important to keep regular tabs on your viewability rates during and following a campaign; you must also front load your campaign with high quality, timely data to enhance targeting capabilities and ensure the right ads will be matched up to the right users. And right now, the most valuable data to fuel a targeting campaign, across devices and channels, for both branding and direct response purposes, is intent data, which has been shown to improve engagement by up to 400%.

When evaluating platforms and partners, don’t be dazzled by a high viewability rate—and absolutely be wary of any vendor that promises 100% viewability, which is all but impossible currently. You need to also ensure the quality of the data that fuels the platform.
*Verify the data sources and that intent data is layered atop the foundational data of behavior and demographics. Remembering that it is the combination of viewability + intent that drives real engagement, and that combination is what enables you to ensure you are not only getting what you pay for but also getting the best results possible. Campaigns, from all media sources, benefit substantially when they utilize intent signals to power results.
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