There's a better life beyond viewability

30 May 2017  |  Newsline Staff 
There's a better life beyond viewability

Fulgoni, left, with media journalist Torin Douglas

The advertising industry is thinking about viewability all wrong - and it's time to reshuffle priorities.

That is the view of Comscore co-founder and CEO Gian Fulgoni - expressed during a trip to the UK last week as he prepares to launch a product update he hopes will change client attitudes and get them to concentrate on more important things.

"Let's take viewability out of the equation so we don't have to worry about it," Fulgoni said during a Mediatel debate on the subject. "Instead let's focus on the metrics that are more important."

To this end, Comscore is updating its products so it can eliminate viewability as a "friction point" by making it free to measure. Fulgoni said he hopes the move will allow the industry to shift its focus and give online ad measurement a shot in the arm.

"What we think this will do, since you don't have to pay for it, is allow you to focus on measuring the important things: creative, demographics, effectiveness, consumer attitudes, purchase intent or sales lift, for instance."


Fulgoni explains why Comscore is offering viewability measurement for free

Fulgoni has a long history on the subject of viewability - Comscore was one of the first research companies to investigate the problem on behalf of brands back in 2007.

At the time, major global clients such as P&G were moving increasingly large pots of cash into online advertising, but the more money that went in, the more boardrooms wanted to know if they were getting the same audience guarantees as other media, such as TV.

Comscore investigated and the simple answer was 'no'.

"It was crazy," Fulgoni said. "And the more we looked, the more we realised things weren't working. This quickly led to other clients asking us to measure things like viewability."

From this point, however, Fulgoni said an unfortunate preoccupation took over. "We are all under such strong time pressures and cost pressures that often we choose the easiest, least expensive way out - and that can be dead wrong."

And so it was with viewability, Fulgoni said.

"What we've come to realise is that it starts to become viewed more as an effectiveness metric than it ever should be."

Torin Douglas, Jason Wills, Dino Myers-Lamptey, Ryan Kangisser and Stephen Webb

Commenting on Fulgoni's views, Dino Myers-Lamptey, head of strategy, the7stars, said the industry is currently going through a period where it is using old metrics that were once effective and applying them in ways which are no longer fit for purpose.

"For instance, click-through rates were once a very powerful measure to work out how effective your communications message was, but for a lot of what we're doing now we're measuring things way beyond," he said.

For Ryan Kangisser, managing partner at MediaSense, viewability - although used as a KPI by many of his clients - should really be considered as a "hygiene metric".

"Viewability should sit alongside things like fraud," he said. "They are both metrics that act as inputs to a much bigger goal which leads to engagement and conversion."

Meanwhile, Stephen Webb, regional director, marketing science EMEA, agency partnerships, Facebook, added: "One of the biggest challenges we face is that entire teams use these metrics as their KPIs - often to fuel the wrong kind of strategy.

"As an industry we need to think harder about what are the right KPIs for digital."


Myers-Lamptey: How to advance the viewability debate



Comscore partnered with Mediatel to host the viewability debate

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NickDrew, CEO, Fuse Insights on 30 May 2017
“ComScore are being pretty disingenuous - after all, it was them ramming viewability down the throats of agencies and publishers (and charging heftily for this unwanted new metric) at a time when the discussion was about reach and frequency. To now state that "it starts to become viewed more as an effectiveness metric than it ever should be." is to utterly ignore their own central role in bringing about that state of affairs and making money from it.”

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