How Fraud And Viewability Metrics Are Affecting Ad Peformance, Pricing


Viewability and fraud will be addressed at AdExchanger’s upcoming CleanAds I/O conference on June 3​​, along with a host of other inventory quality and supply chain issues in the digital advertising ecosystem.

Screening out fraudulent and non-viewable ads  has never been easier or more popular. Last summer AdExchanger reported that the number of marketers running viewability tracking tags had doubled from 2013 to the first half of 2014, surpassing 50% of all marketers tracked by Moat.

Less is known about the impact of this measurement trend on brands and agencies. Has the mainstreaming of these metrics led to noticeable improvements in campaign performance? And what about pricing? Is the “flight to quality” driving CPMs higher?

To answer these questions, AdExchanger asked a handful of agency execs to explain how the mainstreaming of fraud and viewability tech is impacting their media buys.

Click below or scroll down to read their responses.

Anush Prabhu, chief channel planning and investment officer, Deutsch NY 

“We’ve seen both increases and decreases in campaign performance. We have been able to optimize campaigns running on long-tail and fraudulent sites towards more premium environments to increase performance on viewability and other performance metrics. However, in some cases where we were seeing increased performance, we discovered that we were running on mostly fraudulent sites being trafficked by bots.

In both cases we were willing to pay higher CPMs upfront for more premium content, but ultimately received poor-quality inventory. We have not necessarily seen prices trend up, but I think vendors will continue to inadvertently over promise and under deliver unless they start upping their game in filtering the noise from what they sell instead of it being discovered post facto by advertisers. The good news for now is that the market has been very accepting of the data to ‘make good’ on any fraud caught.”

Rino Scanzoni, chief investment officer, GroupM

“Factoring in viewability metrics has not created upward pricing pressure on inventory as GroupM is primarily the only trading unit in digital applying aggressive but realistic viewability metrics into deal structures. Most of the marketplace is optimizing on viewability performance metrics more consistent with IAB minimum standards and not currently paying on viewed impressions. Performance improvements depend on what is being measured, but clearly basing campaigns on viewed impressions that are sufficient to create an opportunity to communicate a message to humans improves outcomes.”

Rudy Grahn, SVP of analytics, ZenithOptimedia Group

“Access to viewability and fraud forensics can produce immediate optimization value more than sufficient to justify the effort and expense. I am not sure I would characterize the costs associated with viewability/fraud prevention purely in terms of CPM pressure for data or inventory, though that is a plausible side effect of a focus on these issues while planning.

The pressures of dealing with fraud may manifest itself as a limit on your ability to scale your program rather than a direct CPM. Avoiding crud may force you away from certain tactics in data or media inventory, for example. A race to quality – if it greatly reduces your options – may not show up as a higher CPM, but would be no less serious. Expect that a clean campaign will require multiple lines of defense, including your own time (no matter what other precautions you take.) The true costs don’t all manifest themselves immediately as CPM pressure, but they are real costs and you may not get an itemized bill to pass along to anyone else.”

Chris Innes, SVP of client services, SteelHouse

“On the fraud measurement side, new tools in the marketplace have helped the performance of our campaigns. New tools have allowed us to find patterns in fraud through our networks partners and we’ve been able to block a majority of that activity – obviously that leads to better performance. Cost hasn’t been impacted in any way. We’re just seeing a much better return.

Viewability tools have allowed measurement of viewability, but raising the percentage of viewable impressions within a campaign, while not hurting overall performance (for me that means the click-based conversion) is seemingly difficult. I have seen the percentage of viewable impressions rise, but not at the rate I would like to see with all the focus in the market being on viewability. Cost has risen marginally but the rise of performance has followed that trend thus zeroing out the impact.”

Sam Bloom, GM of interactive marketing, Camelot Communications

“The way we plan and buy is very selective (hyperfocused on quality in the pre-buy and highly targeted audiences), so we tend to be more insulated to fraud or visibility issues (but not immune). I suspect as more advertisers leverage programmatic media they will discover what we know to be gospel – better inventory and better units deliver better results. That will of course lead to greater demand and correspondingly increased prices. Overall, in Q1 we saw dramatic increases in YOY CPMs, so clearly the gospel is being adopted by others.”

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1 Comment

  1. Good points. The best way to get rid of fraud and non-viewability is to use the metrics that these fraudsters can’t match. CPM, Visits, and even sometimes metrics like Leads can be fraudulently boosted by bots.