Hoping To Unlock Bigger Budgets, Adap.tv Begins Selling Viewable Impressions For Video Ads

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Amir AshkenaziAs competition for brand campaign dollars heats up in the video space, Adap.tv has introduced its version of the "viewable impression" for streaming media with the introduction of its Certified Viewability feature, which promises to verify whether a video placement has been seen in real-time and blocks impressions that do not appear to the user.

The hope for Adap.tv and its CEO/founder Amir Ashkenazi is that its Certified Viewability will not only buttress the reach and frequency metric known as the Gross Rating Point for online, but that its viewability tool will become the industry standard, as its rivals in the video space develop and market their own similar tools.

"It doesn't make sense for buyers to pay for impressions that haven't been viewed," Ashkenazi said in an interview with AdExchanger, echoing sentiments of his agency partners. "The idea around viewability is so basic. We believe that any brand advertiser that is paying on an impression basis should pay for only what's viewable. You wouldn't pay Amazon for an empty box. Why should media buyers?"

Adap.tv has completely rolled out the viewability function and already has been praised by media agency partners including Universal McCann, Starcom MediaVest Group/VivaKi, and Horizon Media. To help spur adoption and use, Ashkenazi said that participating agencies and publishers will not be charged extra for the additional layer of service.

"We have technology embedded on both the buy and sell sides and that allows us to develop not only reporting capabilities, but targeting, filtering in real-time," Ashkenazi said, emphasizing that this tool goes beyond the sort of after-the-fact ad effectiveness software that's offered almost universally these days. "We can – and we do – monitor for every impression, the size of the player, as well as the position and placement in the window, so we can ensure that only viewable impressions are delivered."

Citing comScore figures, Ashkenazi said that the shift of premium budgets into video has been slowed due to the fact that 31% of ads are never viewed, either because they are on a part of the page that is below the fold, or because of deceptive or fraudulent practices.

It's not clear that Adap.tv's solution can be adapted to the wider display world – among the problems highlighted by a recent Interactive Advertising Bureau/Media Ratings Council study is the blockage created by iFrames that contain a publisher's content. But Chris Paul, VivaKi's general manager, tells us that, as advertisers pressure agencies to reduce waste and drive more ROI, the pressure to develop solutions to the barriers of viewability will come down. In addition to the technological hurdles, the self-interested reluctance of publishers to acknowledge and address obstacles to optimal ad visibility will also be erased.

"I believe video, more than any other format, has the ability to shift perceptions of the value of programmatic buying by showing the effectiveness and engagement of the marketing on top of the efficiency of making these kinds of buys," Paul said.

But will this unlock premium inventory from publishers? we asked.

"There are plenty of opposing forces," Paul said. "If publishers are seeing greater demand for viewable impressions, they'll be more likely to want to sell that directly, rather than programmatically, because they can demand a higher price. In terms of addressing that natural self-interest that publishers have, if advertisers have more confidence about how effective their ad spending will be, they will press their agencies to spend more on RTB/programmatic. And as more money flows through programmatic channels, that will influence publishers to follow that money. That's why I think offering the kind of clear knowledge of ad effectiveness with viewability is so important."

Ashkenazi and Paul agree that replacing the GRP is appealing right now, and is why online viewability metrics will catch on.

"The GRP made sense at the time," Paul said. "We can do better now. It is the burden of the digital communications space to let advertisers know how effective their spending can be. Once we can build grassroots support for a standard for viewability, that's when you'll see a dramatic shift in budgets to premium online video."

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