A Recap of BIMA’s Panel on the Road to Transparency in Digital Marketing

August 25, 2014

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Our Digital team attended a BIMA Boston panel discussion Tuesday, on one of the hottest issue in the industry, viewability. The panel included Leon Barsoumian, Senior Vice President of Analytics and Research at Havas Media, TS Kelly, Lead Strategist and Analyst at Vindico, Mark Rotblat, VP of Media at TubeMogul and Adam Shlachter, Head of Media Activation for DigitasLBi North America. What you should know from #BIMAView:

Should publishers be required to guarantee viewability as mandated by IAB?

While making publishers guaranteeing viewability is one possibility, the panel agreed that it is not the complete solution to the problem as so many variables are in play. Leon Barsoumian from Havas mentioned that an impression is considered viewable if 50% is in view for at least 2 seconds. However, that can be debated as it may not be enough time to measure an impression to be in-view.

What approach can we use to make sure we are really measuring what’s being seen?

There aren’t strong industry standards in place to ensure accurate measurement, but agencies do have full control over their transparency regarding the topic. Publishers have started putting measures in place to help report on viewability as well as bot and fraudulent traffic, which is another problem that the industry as a whole is facing. As Mark Rotblat of TubeMogul, a video ad network and ad server, explained, “Bot traffic is continuously searched for in their network and they have teams in place to recognize non-human or fraudulent activity.” Ad networks and publishers are coming forward with their viewability, and bot/fraudulent traffic information to be as transparent with clients as possible.

How do we make sure we are really getting what is planned for our clients?

Agencies are responsible for making sure that clients are aware of both viewability and bot fraud, and serve as consultants to help clients navigate the murky waters. As Adam Schlacter of DigitasLBi commented, “at the end of the day it all comes down to agency transparency and control”. Leon also added that companies are more willing to live with the possibility of non-viewable and fraudulent media as long as their agencies are minimizing the impacts on their clients as much as they can.

How do we move forward?

At this time there are no answers or standards for viewability or bot traffic in the industry right now. Publishers are working towards fighting bots and shutting them down but similar to the game Whack-a-Mole™, when one bot is shut down, another one can be created. So while we know that bot fraud is not 100% preventable, we are confident that the industry will continue to work together to spread education and search for solutions. We will also work transparently with our clients. As all of the panelists agreed, that is what we owe them.