Many marketers have moved past relying on impressions to measure the success of digital ad campaigns. Ensuring that an ad has the opportunity to be seen is vital, but that's only the start. eMarketer’s Bill Fisher spoke with Harry Harcus, managing director for the UK and pan-regional at programmatic media company Xaxis, about moving beyond the basics of viewability.
Harcus was interviewed as part of eMarketer’s October report, "Beyond Ad Measurement and Metrics: In the UK, Marketer Attention Turns to Engagement."
Many marketers view the success of their digital ad campaigns in terms of the number of impressions. When you're measuring the success of a campaign, are you going beyond impressions?
Impressions are OK, but they're basic. The fundamental problem with them is that they're distant from what a marketer or business is actually looking for.
There's a lack of connection and accountability, and [impressions are] insufficient in helping marketers prove exactly how their advertising helps them build a brand or generate revenue, for instance.
We still measure to MRC and IAB standards, but for some of our clients, we upped the standard significantly.
How important is viewability as a benchmark of success?
Viewability has a very important role to play, because the exposure time of an ad correlates to important brand metrics such as ad lift, recall, brand awareness and brand perception. I think viewability is a value-based decision.
What do you think of the MRC [Media Ratings Council] viewability standards?
It's a low bar and very simplistic, but it's a benchmark. There's value in having a benchmark to compare quality and performance.
Do you use different viewability standards for your clients?
We still measure to MRC and IAB standards, but for some clients, we upped the standard significantly. We only consider ads that have 100% of pixels in-view to be viewable, as a start, as opposed to 50%.
In terms of duration, for display we start with 100% of pixels in-view for 1 second. For premium video, 50% of the video must be played, it must be user-initiated and the sound must be on.
But is viewability the best benchmark for success today?
Viewability itself isn't quite enough. We are keen to make exposure time a transactionable media buy for clients.
For example, when we did research on premium media vs. exchange media, we saw that viewability, exposure time and dwell time are longer on premium content than nonpremium sites. This converts into longer exposure time for ads, and that leads to brand uplift and positive sentiment recall of those ads.