The Next Standard for Digital Media Transactions: vCPM

justin-choi“Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Justin Choi, CEO at Nativo.

The Media Rating Council (MRC) hit yet another milestone [PDF] in their viewable impression crusade on Monday by lifting the advisory on viewable impressions for video.

Judging by the expanding list of accredited viewable impression vendors and the increase in industry cheerleaders on this topic, including Randall Rothenberg, the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s president and CEO, the viewable cost per mille (vCPM) charge metric is well on its way toward becoming the next major industry standard for digital media transactions.

While all this momentum is exciting – if you’re still not convinced, check out these two recent public service announcement videos– we still have a ways to go in order to make viewable impressions and the vCPM model a reality in the buying and selling of digital media.

In the MRC’s initial advisory lift on display [PDF] in March, it identified several challenges to establishing standard viewability metrics, such as the varying granularity of measurement, ad vs. ad container measurement and human error. Now that video has been added to the mix, here are a few considerations and potential solutions that may help the industry embrace vCPM as the standard method of transacting digital media.

Media consumption in different formats and on multiple devices: Media spending attributed to multi-screen advertising campaigns is expected to grow from 20% of budgets today to 50% in the next three years, according to a recent study by Nielsen and the Association of National Advertisers. Consumers are now mobile on multiple devices, so we need viewable solutions and a vCPM metric that takes cross-platform consumption into account.

Expanding ecosystem of automation: As larger chunks of media spending move to RTB, exchange-based trading and other automated buying channels, we need solutions to scale vCPM across these programmatic environments. Media buyers embraced programmatic because, among many benefits, it brought massive efficiencies to their responsibilities and helped them maximize value from ad budgets. In order for brands and agencies to embrace vCPM, we need to make it operationally easy for them to adopt the new metric. This can be solved, for example, by incorporating the vCPM metric within programmatic interfaces media buyers use.

Leveraging engagement metrics to complete the story: Viewability only gives insight into whether an ad was in view of the user’s browser, but not necessarily if the user saw it and connected with the brand. To capture this, we also need to measure attention and engagement to prove the extent to which an ad aligned with the user’s interests and mindset at the time of being seen. Average time spent consuming content within the publisher’s site is just one example; by measuring this, along with other advanced attention metrics, we gain insight into users’ active consumption of content, and how successful the brand was in creating content relevant to the user’s experience and interest.

We have a great opportunity with viewable impressions and the vCPM metric to give brand advertisers and media planners peace of mind and greater efficiency with their media buys. At the same time, media publishers, ad providers and ad tech vendors will have significantly more credibility and the ability to extract fair value from the consumer attention they deliver.

“Currently, digital media are the only media segment that do not provide guarantees to advertisers that their ads can be seen – that the ‘opportunity to see’ exists,” Rothenberg once said.

In taking a step back, he brings up an astounding point: In every other advertising medium, buyers have physical evidence that an ad ran and was viewable, including hard copies of newspapers or magazines, billboards prominently displayed on the side of a building, on-air commercial breaks within television programming or in-between popular songs on the radio.

While viewable impressions may not be perfect, they offer a more concrete answer and a better proof of purchase to whether a digital ad had the potential of being seen. I hope this opportunity to innovate is not lost on our fellow industry comrades and that the digital advertising industry at large rises to the occasion and embraces viewability.

Follow Justin Choi (@JustinCie), Nativo (@NativoPlatform) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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1 Comment

  1. Michael Bennett Cohn

    Buyers in other media may be able to find physical proof that their ads were viewable, but it’s harder to find proof that their ads were actually viewed on an ‘impression’ basis. When you buy a print ad, you pay for reach and frequency; you don’t pay for viewability, and as far as you know, 90% of the magazine’s readers didn’t even open their copy to the page where your ad appeared.