So we have a standard for video viewability. Now what?

It's time to demand site-level viewability reporting from publishers

On July 1st in the United States, the Media Rating Council (MRC) will lift its advisory on using viewability as a currency in digital video advertising. But what does that mean for Canada?

At its most basic level, “viewability” simply refers to whether or not an advertisement had the opportunity to be seen by the viewer. There isn’t a Canadian definition for video viewability yet, but the MRC defines it as 50% of the video player in view in an active window for two consecutive seconds.

Under the MRC definition, the reasons a video ad might not be viewable include the viewer opening another tab or window, the viewer scrolling down the page quickly, or if the ad appears beneath the fold.

Video viewability rates in Canada are slightly better than the global average: 62% viewability for programmatic direct inventory, which is inventory bought directly from publishers through programmatic channels, compared to 53% worldwide. While these numbers might come as a shock to some brands, they reflect a phenomenon as old as advertising itself: some consumers will always ignore ads – the difference is now we can measure it.

So how can advertisers boost their viewability rates? Establishing a common standard only gets you so far – having the right tools to do something about it is actually more important.

Currently, the bulk of viewability reporting in the marketplace is rolled up at a campaign or publisher level, making acting on the information difficult. What advertisers really need – and should demand from their partners – is detailed reporting at the site-level. After all, how can you stop spending money on placements where you are ignored if you don’t know where that’s happening?

By not demanding viewability rates at the site-level, advertisers run the risk of becoming complacent with sub-standard reporting.

In Canada, the conversation around video viewability is still in its infancy, but it’s evolving quickly. The best way for Canadian marketers to learn more about viewability is for them to adopt reporting that shows them how many of their video ads aren’t seen.

To that end, technology exists that allows advertisers to “audit” their existing media buys. For our part, TubeMogul offers a free product to do this, but anyone can repurpose the industry’s Open Video View open-source solution for their own efforts. With this technology, advertisers can see how many of their ads aren’t being seen and, more importantly, why. The solution offers site-level viewability data across any inventory source, including direct buys from publishers as well as buys from ad networks, exchanges and more.

A watershed moment in the online video ad ecosystem is here. Marketers who understand what viewability is and why it’s significant – and more importantly, have a plan of attack – will have a distinct competitive advantage.

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