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Harping on viewability rates alone will not improve your campaign performance

Viewability is increasingly a concern for marketers who want to ensure that their ads are being seen. But what counts as viewability? Well, according to the Media Ratings Council, it is a desktop or mobile impression that is 50% visible, for at least one second.

Southeast Asia is currently the world’s fastest growing internet regions with an existing internet user base of 260 million, predicted to grow to 480 million by 2020, according to a 2016 report by Temasek and Google. The Southeast Asian internet economy is also expected to grow to US$200 billion by 2025. As such, viewability is expected to be the top priority for marketers in the region in the next few years.

In its latest report titled “First Look: Display Advertising”, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) measured more than 424 million impressions across Asia Pacific between August to October 2016, and concluded that viewability rates in Southeast Asia are almost the same as the US. The report indicated that the average viewability rate in Southeast Asia is 53%, deviating less than 4% when compared with data provided by comScore, Integral Ad Science and MOAT.

While it is good news to be on par with the US in terms of viewability, Brendon Chase, group strategy director, McCann Worldgroup Singapore & MRM//McCann strategy lead, APAC, advised brands to not get too carried away and that they should be thinking about their individual campaign benchmarks. He said:

While it’s good to peer gaze on industry standards, the only data that really matters is your own and those within your category.

He also stressed the importance of thinking about the message and meaning of what a brand is doing rather than obsessing over viewability rates, as this might result in the brand forcing viewability just to increase the rates.

Adding on to Chase’s point about individual campaign benchmarks is Kenneth Wong, general manager, Cadreon Malaysia, who said that while viewability is a key metric that determines the effectiveness of the agency’s campaigns, there are other “unique objectives” that would require optimisation towards different metrics. These include conversion rates pairing with media costs, the percentage of effective reach and brand lift metrics such as awareness, recall and message association.

Wong, however, said the results show that digital stakeholders in the region, including publishers, agencies and advertisers are moving towards the right direction – even though report is not yet a Southeast Asian benchmark.

Sue-Anne Lim, chief data officer, Dentsu Aegis Network Malaysia, said having a standardised measurement in viewability ensures that the metrics compared are commensurable. She added that the industry needs to collaborate to ensure huge investments in media, including in the digital space where videos are now a main content format, are not wasted.

What is next for clients?

Chase hopes that the report will push brands to see the importance of viewability and to start having discussions with their media agencies or when buying digital media. On the other hand, the report’s statistics may not mean much to clients that are already aware of viewability as a key measurement metric.

“In fact, their media agency may already be demanding higher viewability rates than those reported by IAB as a standard before buying any digital media,” Chase added. An additional emphasis on the topic of viewability, especially for brand-led clients, is always helpful to encourage consistent adoption of viewabilty measurement across both programmatic and all digital media buys, Gautham Maediratta, head of programmatic, APAC, Mindshare, said. “Hopefully this also pushes publishers to look at their own viewability independently, and improve the placements of their ad spaces,” he added.

Wong reiterated his stand that brands should approach viewability based on each campaign’s unique objectives and goals, rather than viewing it separately from other campaign metrics. He said:

Viewability rates in exclusion of all other metrics is not an indicator of campaign performance.

According to him, working with an agency’s digital and programmatic teams to translate business goals into objectives remains the best approach for brands. Wong added that IAB’s report can be a good gauge when dealing with campaigns that are optimised against higher viewability.

Meanwhile, Maediratta said while the findings did not come as a surprise, he was curious about the factors that might have caused the “anomaly” in Indonesia, such as the split of programmatic vs non-programmatic and the type of ad units measured.

“I think the region has progressed in adopting viewability measurement, both on the media buying side and the publisher side, and that might have helped push the results to be close to or at part with western benchmarks,” Maediratta said.

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