Is Anybody Watching? or: A Case for Viewability Metrics

Recently in the world of online media, there has been a lot of talk about viewability, lack of brand safety and the amount of click fraud infiltrating the digital video environment. Articles from media outlets like the Washington Post and New York Times make the online video arena sound downright scary. Why would you ever invest? It’s like living in an episode of the Walking Dead.Taking a step back puts things in perspective. Yes, the online video ecosystem is extremely complex and can be overwhelming. But there is hope. And there is strong rationale as to why to invest.

Online video is one of the fastest growing media, across all demographics – people watch video on their phones, desktops, laptops, tablets. It’s a fact. eMarketer states that in 2014 there are 194.5 MILLION internet users who watch video content online, that number will grow to 212.5 million in 2018. Let’s just say online video is not going anywhere.

What needs to change is tracking and reporting methodology, across the entire industry. Standards have not yet been fully established by the IAB (they are getting there, slowly) so advertisers have limited understanding of whether ads are being viewed in full and in what environments. I am not usually one for rules or regulations, but in this case, they are a must.

So what’s the solve? –  Adoption of viewability metrics, across all industry players – agencies, brands, publishers, EVERYONE. Introducing a new way to purchase and plan online video would help advertisers and agencies understand the full value of their investment – and rates (specifically, CPMs, for the media folks out there) would reflect the actual value of each online video environment.

Eventually, the implementation of viewability metrics will create the ability to evaluate video performance, reach/frequencies etc. across all media channels – TV, desktop, mobile. And at some point, digital video and TV may be on a level playing field. But that might just be wishful thinking.

Image: New York Times

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