Blind Fighting: Beyond Viewability for Media Optimization

An ad agency, which just received a detailed brief from one of its top clients. This brief includes information such as the target audiences, product offerings, spend, etc. The advertiser also includes the objective of the campaign: to measure success by “driving brand lift” through “viewability.” While this metric is important for media delivery, it does not provide any insight into the branding performance of the advertising. Therefore, the industry needs to look beyond viewability for brand measurement.

The International Advertising Bureau (IAB) define a viewable impression to be an ad which appears at least 50% on screen for more than one second.  However, there is a misconception that if an ad was viewed then it accomplished its purpose. Namely, if the ad was seen, then most likely, it was successful in delivering a message to the target audience, and in turn, they were able to absorb, compile and understand that message. The good people in advertising know that this is usually not the case. For instance, consider the below example, where site property A has higher viewability than property B:

Both properties are demanding roughly the same CPM, then by utilizing a few rudimentary calculations, we can imagine a scenario where optimizing towards viewability is not in the best interest of the advertiser:

Clearly, while property A has a lower Viewable CPM (VCPM), it actually has a much higher Brand Lift Point per VCPM. Brand lift per unit of impressions (CPM, VCPM, CPI) can be generally classified as Cost Per Point Lift (CPPL) and can be calculated as  

A metric like that would be something to optimize towards our effective media channels. This however does require a brand tracker or study which is focused measuring brand performance of media.

While I understand that the industry wants to move towards a place where you only pay for the impressions that you see. In turn however, sites that offer higher viewability ad units will require higher rates due to increase demand. This does not take into account the inherit audience bias that this type of media planning could introduce if not checked. A brand study that accompanies your campaign to make sure that you are getting the best viewable bang for your brand dollar works towards everyone’s advantage.