Misdeclaration Creates A Transparency Nightmare For Video Advertisers

adenforshawOn TV And Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in programmatic TV and video.

Today’s column is written by Aden Forshaw, co-founder and chief technology officer at Coull.

Programmatic video advertising is growing at an acceptable rate, but unfortunately it won’t pick up the pace until the industry solves its transparency problem.

Issues around inventory misdeclaration across the entire open video marketplace are causing brand marketers to marginalize this powerful channel. More of advertisers’ marketing budget could be pumped into video but inventory is not being clearly and accurately labeled, which is problematic since different types of video ads can be used to meet different goals.

Autoplay video ads, for example, offer more reach than click-to-play, but do not provide the same engagement feedback. Transparency around these and other types of information ensures that brands have a clear picture of the product they are buying.

Brands are used to getting detailed feedback on where their creative is set to appear in other, more mature channels. The only way to entice more of their marketing budgets is to build more transparency into the ecosystem.

Learn From Past Lessons

Across the board in video advertising, the trend has been to take a reactionary stance on key issues affecting the ecosystem.

For viewability, for instance, we’re seeing progress because brands are taking a bold stance by stipulating that 100% of inventory be in-view. If the demand side did not demand 100% viewability, would publishers and technology vendors still be running around in circles?

Similarly with bot fraud, it took the release of several hard-hitting research papers into the public domain before there was any real momentum toward figuring out how to solve the dilemma.

The supply side needs to take its collective head out of the sand because inventory transparency is something that needs to be figured out now. It must investigate how to discover and communicate to the marketplace whether a video is click-to-play, muted, played as an in-banner video and actually on the domain and page it says it is. Without a concerted movement toward declaring inventory at a granular level, video may never realize the investment it truly deserves.

There is no clearer example of this than the expanding in-banner marketplace, which has become an easy victim for people looking to capitalize on lagging transparency, quickly gaining a bad reputation because of the actions of these significant few. Some companies buy less desirable in-banner video but sell it as in-stream video without declaring it as such.

In-stream video commands higher eCPMs because the creative is displayed when the user is actively engaged in the media, such as watching something they have purposefully sought out. In-banner video is video advertising creative that is shown in IAB-standard 300 x 250 display placements. Compared to in-stream inventory, in-banner video offers comparatively less value because a user’s attention could be elsewhere on the page when an ad is actually running.

Lack Of Trust Means Lack Of Investment

When buyers are misled, it creates a lack of trust. There must be more investment in the valuation of inventory, and everyone in the video supply chain must shoulder the responsibility. Unscrupulous practices, where inventory is misclassified to give it the best chance of selling at a premium, must stop.

The supply side should refrain from contributing to this murky marketplace because clarity around inventory unlocks demand and fuels revenue. There is demand for in-banner inventory, and for certain campaigns, 300 x 250 inventory slots can deliver on an advertiser’s brand awareness KPIs, which cost little in comparison.

But there are other examples of misdeclared inventory on the open marketplace. Autoplay and click-to-play details are rarely supplied, along with player size and position. By seeing this information, advertisers can then make a more informed decision about the inventory they are bidding on.

It is only by addressing this issue that the true potential of video as a channel can be realized. This is a trust business, and buyers need confidence that they are planning, buying and optimizing against a legitimate product. Counterfeit goods drive down the prices of their real counterparts, and this dilution of value affects everyone.

Follow Coull (@Coull) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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1 Comment

  1. The vast majority of video ad supply these days is in-banner/Auto-play ads with the worst of the worst being the auto-audio. I am rather shocked to see these units on some of the top names in publishing as they continue to push more and more ads into less and less space. They’re cutting off their nose to spite their face at this point as these intrusive, annoying and poor performing units simply push their visitors away, or worse, to install an ad blocker.

    There is nothing good about these units. They are usually a violation of the T’s & C’s of the IO and in addition to being a terrible user experience dont pay the pubs nearly what they need or want… but the brokers, the middle men, they’re making out like bandits.

    Why are these units bought? Because they are not correctly labeled and they’re purchased without any guarantees. Who is at fault? The exchanges for not policing their trading partners, the ad server for not sniffing out and blocking these placements and the publishers who cant seem to say no to the easy money.

    What this is doing is driving the premium advertisers to implement and enforce vendor fraud tech which as other articles on Adexchanger point out, is a mess unto itself with various definitions, techniques and tactics and no consensus on what is actually fraud.

    Follow the money and you’ll see who is benefiting from this practice. Its not hard to see who is to blame.