Viewability – whether ads are viewed or not – continues to plague the industry. At best, problems with viewability occur when the user hasn’t seen an ad for legitimate reasons. For example, perhaps they have failed to scrolled down the page. At worst, there will be multiple autoplay ads deliberately placed on unviewable parts of the page, or bots generating fake impressions and views. Combating the problem isn’t easy, and many say there is no silver bullet. However, one of the solutions gaining traction is OpenVideoView (also known as OpenVV), an open source initiative which was originally spearheaded by TubeMogul, a video ad platform that mainly focuses on the buy-side. 

The OpenVV consortium now has 24 members, including a number of the leading video ad tech vendors, as well as other key industry players such as Nielsen and the IAB. Interestingly, the goal of OpenVV is not to establish an industry standard. The OpenVV code has been built  to allow for greater measurement of viewability and provides the ability to easily adjust the code to align with what will eventually become the industry standard, set by IAB and the MRC. So OpenVV is not looking to set its own standard but is trying to influence the IAB and MRC to take other metrics into account than just the 50 percent in-view for a set amount of time.

Now OpenVV now has it’s first agency member — VivaKi, the Publicis-owned trading desk, who have just come on board. Here Nick Reid, Managing Director EMEA of TubeMogul and Cheryl Stump, Director, AOD Video at VivaKi, discuss OpenVV, the need for publisher support on viewability and whether agencies will be willing to pay a premium when there are guarantees that ads are viewable.

What led you to become the first agency member of OpenVV?  

Cheryl StumpAt VivaKi, we are constantly meeting with technology platforms and vendors in the marketplace to evaluate best practices and capabilities for our programmatic solution Audience On Demand® (AOD). When several of these companies came together for the OpenVV initiative, we took notice. Viewability and inventory quality are huge points of focus for us, so we reached out to TubeMogul to find out how we could get involved and contribute in a meaningful way. Our goal is to educate the marketplace about viewability and help drive the adoption of a standard methodology for measurement, thus we wanted to stay close to where this conversation is happening and feel that the open source code provided by the consortium is a welcome step in providing the technology behind the measurement.

Congratulations on getting your first agency member on board. How has OpenVV been received by publishers and how long before we see a publisher join?

Nick ReidThank you. It’s been a great year in terms of leading and driving the viewability discussion forward, this has been reflected in the number and range of businesses who are now part of the OpenVV Consortium. Viewability has always been about providing transparency and accountability when it comes to understanding and tracking inventory. All publishers and broadcasters, who have great quality inventory, have truly embraced viewability as an opportunity to demonstrate the value of their inventory.

In essence, viewability aims to build a more premium video inventory ecosystem. This is also reflected in our launch of BrandAccess, our programmatic direct product, which enables the buy side to connect directly with their Publisher partners, alongside their open RTB activity. The fact that we created and drove the OpenVV Consortium was a reflection of our ambition to work with like-minded publishers and broadcasters, who had credibility and were not threatened by transparency on this issue. The businesses who have signed up to OpenVV are, on the whole, either technology companies or networks who are keen to align themselves with this kind of industry-changing initiative. Based on a number of conversations we are having at the moment, we certainly see publishers signing up to the consortium in the next quarter – this was illustrated yesterday by the attendance of the IAB Research Breakfast. We know from recent research we did into viewability standards in the UK that the biggest driver of non-viewable impressions is player size – the smaller the player, the less viewable it is – and premium publishers tend to have good player size.

While few would argue that agencies and their clients should pay for wasted impressions and views, the reality is that a certain amount of waste is currently built into the business models of digital publishers, most of whom are struggling as it is. As advertising improves with viewability and agencies and brands see better returns, will they be willing to pay a premium for viewable ads?

Cheryl StumpBrands and agencies will have to be willing to pay more for viewable ads. Finding quality (large player sizes, user-initiated, above-the-fold) in-stream, not in-banner, video inventory in the open marketplace is harder than it may seem to those not intimately involved in buying within the programmatic space. As demand for the limited supply of optimal video inventory increases, the market value for these placements will also increase – such is the nature of real-time bidding to “win” impressions. For those brands and agencies unwilling to budge on rates/bids they currently have for unverified and/or non-viewable, they will be disappointed at the scale of delivery to quality placements that can be achieved.

Could you explain the advantage of OpenVV being open source? How does it compare with other viewability standards?

Nick ReidThe reason we made the code open source was to engage with all business and parties involved in video, so rather than building our own solution and saying “trust us, it’s proprietary”, we wanted to push forward with like-minded businesses, encouraging everyone to focus less on the technology and more on the standards. The fact that we now have 24 members of OpenVV including the founding four businesses, plus the likes of Nielsen, TRUSTe and now Vivaki, is a true reflection that as a consortium, we can look to drive things faster than perhaps the experience of viewability in display.

This discussion should be around enabling agencies and advertisers to have transparency and control when it comes to viewability, so they can action in real time and make optimisations decisions when it comes to viewability. By being open and transparent, the agencies and advertisers can make their own standards. The industry has talked about viewability for a long while and now it’s time for it to start making a positive difference in the market. When it comes to standards, the industry is still figuring out how to make things work for all parties, but we’re getting close. In the UK, the Internet Advertising Bureau is working with the IAB and MRC in the US to develop a display advertising viewability standard. For us, it’s key to make viewability actionable with real-time reporting, so an advertiser can make a decision on that inventory. This is a real point of difference.

Do you think the standard needs an ‘agency touch’ or has the consortium created a standard in line with what agencies are looking for on viewability?

Cheryl StumpMany of the members of the consortium agree that a standard for video viewability should be more comprehensive than just an ad being 50% in-view on a page for a set amount of time, but should also take into account measurement of active tab and potentially audio settings. The initial standard that will soon be set by the IAB/MRC is not likely to go beyond percent of ad and time in-view, however VivaKi and other Publicis Groupe agencies will continue to leverage tools such as Vindico’s Adtricity reporting to gather actionable insights on the execution of ads (player size, content adjacency, active tab and other indicators) in order to optimize delivery to higher quality placements.

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