Advertising spend across digital media is increasing, with some marketers upping their spend by 20%-30%. The increase in media budget brings heightened concerns around viewability, accountability, transparency and brand safety. With more money coming from digital, chief marketing officers are getting concerned and will find it difficult to justify the increasing ad-spend to the chief financial officer with viewability and transparency issues hovering on the surface.
The background to this, according to the latest ‘We are Social 2018’ report, is that four billion people globally have internet access; that’s a 53% penetration of the total world population. More and more people are gaining access to the internet as more affordable smartphones and cheaper fibre enters the market. There are 3.1 billion active social media users, a 42% penetration of the total world population.
Worldwide, people are going online to keep up with their social lives.
This makes it interesting for marketers as they must follow consumers through their path to purchase. Year on year, global internet access has grown by 7% from January 2017 to January 2018, while active social media users have increased by 13% during the same period.
According to the report, there are 30 million internet users in South Africa, a 53% penetration of the total South African population, and 18 million active social media users. Year on year, internet access in South Africa has also grown by 7% from January 2017 to January 2018, while active social media users have increased by 20% during the same period.
According to the Global Web Index, South Africans spend a lot of time online. Globally, we are in fifth position with average number of hours spent online per day standing at 08h32m. South Africans are spending more time online and consuming digital media than watching traditional TV, listening to the radio and/or reading newspapers or magazines.
What about attention? What is attention?
Attention is noticing something, consideration with a view towards action, that begins with viewability, time, and interactivity. According to scientists, the age of smartphones has left humans with such a short attention span that even a goldfish can hold a thought for longer. Researchers surveyed 2 000 participants in Canada and studied the brain activity of 112 participants using electroencephalograms. The results showed the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, around the time the mobile revolution began, to eight seconds.
Attention is important in advertising as adverts must capture the attention of users or targeted audience for an action to be taken. This is the key element in performance-based digital media.
According to eMarketer, spend on paid media worldwide will increase by 7% in 2017 to $584.14 billion (R7.0 trillion), and spending on digital media worldwide will increase by 19.1% in 2017 to $228.44 billion (R2.7 trillion), with mobile accounting for 62.5% of total digital ad expenditure. Digital accounts for 39% of the total media spend, taking 39 cents of the total media dollar, and this will increase.
According to a 2016 Moat Analytics report, 67% of worldwide ad-spend is branding and 25% of digital spend is branding; this makes 75% performance based. Now if the entire page was only loaded for one-second before it was closed, can marketers claim the ad on the page was seen?
Ad fraud and full rate?
If you only see three seconds of a TVC on SABC 1 does it register as a spot delivered, meaning the advertiser should pay for the spot? Now imagine buying a McDonald’s meal for R50 and only receiving three fries, a quarter burger and 50ml of soda drink, how would you feel? Should a consumer pay full price for that? Imagine booking a full page in the Sunday Times and only 25% of the ad copy is printed? Should the advertiser pay the full rate?
Digital media is facing an elephant in corporate boardrooms as CMOs must justify the increase in ad-spend while impressions are not delivered or the advert is not even viewable. As digital media budgets increase so do concerns around viewability and it seems as if the elephant is getting bigger.
Again, imagine paying full price for a billboard along the M1 and the billboard is facing the wrong side? Some might call this ‘ad fraud’.
Viewable impressions were developed as an improvement of the online impression metrics measured by first ad servers developed in the mid-1990s; they couldn’t measure whether ad content was visible to a viewer and as ad tech improves so does viewability reporting.
What is viewability?
According to the Media Rating Council (MRC), a viewable ad is if 50% of pixels are in-view for at least one continuous second.
The simple definition is: viewability is a digital advertising metric that tracks impressions that can be seen by users.
Moat Analytics has around 52 metrics that can be used for tracking viewability. I have looked at the most pertinent two which are:
- Valid and viewable impressions
The number of valid impressions that were viewable under the MRC standard (50% of pixels in-view for at least 1 continuous second).
- Valid and fully on-screen measurable impressions
The number of valid impressions where it was possible to determine whether the ad surface was 100% on-screen.
What about viewability benchmarks?
The below stats look at South African benchmarks for Q3 2017. Please note that the benchmarks are not channel specific. They look at ad type.
Display: Desktop fully on-screen – 50.80%; Mobile fully on-screen – 43.90%
Video: Desktop fully on-screen – 51.10%; Mobile fully on-screen – 50.30%
- The operating nature of digital media ad serving makes ad viewability a reality in digital media.
- The industry should be accountable for ad viewability. Ad viewability should assist campaign optimisation and further influence accountability as well as transparency.
- Ad tech will be developed to further analyse ad viewability, focusing on reporting and campaign optimisation.
- As it goes, CPM rates will be calculated on ad impressions that were viewed CPMv (Cost Per Thousand Viewable Impressions).
Nkateko Mongwe is the Digital Data Analyst at one of the biggest media buying and investment companies in sub Saharan Africa. His experience is in telecoms, FMCG etc and his greatest passion is to analyse digital media campaigns and assist in refining digital strategy that is designed to meet client’s business objective