Only in an industry like digital advertising would the ability to show most of the ad for at least one second be considered a feature.
Ad platform 33Across has decided that viewability should instead be a standard, so it has launched AttentionX, which it describes as the first open ad exchange containing only viewable ad inventory.
“Human [viewers] and viewable [inventory] must be the foundation for programmatic buying,” CEO Eric Wheeler said in a statement.
Viewable versus non-viewable. The inventory on most open exchanges, according to his company, can be 50 to 70 percent non-viewable. Higher levels of viewability can exist on a private marketplace, Wheeler told me, but that requires custom arrangements and viewability guarantees.
In 2015, 33Across announced a 100 percent viewability guarantee, where non-viewable ads would be refunded to the advertiser. But Wheeler pointed out that his company was then supplying other exchanges with its inventory and its guarantee, before launching its own exchange about a year ago.
Now, that exchange has morphed into AttentionX, where every piece of inventory has been pre-scored for viewability before it enters for bidding, making a 100 percent guarantee no longer needed.
“DSPs plug in and it’s all viewable,” he told me, “so a guarantee is superfluous.”
Besides, Wheeler said, a viewability guarantee is a hassle, requiring advertisers and exchanges to settle up later.
Other exchanges, Wheeler said, filter inventory after it’s come in and then score the viewability while the ad is being delivered, using historical data. No one else has “scanned the impression quality for viewability before it gets to the exchange,” he said.
33Across uses the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) viewability standard: at least 50 percent of the ad in view for at least one second. AttentionX’s ads are static imagery, animation or rich media.
In addition to meeting that minimum standard, AttentionX also offers time-in-view ads, which are at least 50 percent visible but in increments up to 25 seconds. This works better than some attempts at cost-per-second pricing, the company says, because advertisers can still use their accustomed CPM pricing.
Why you should care. It’s difficult to imagine that digital advertising can gain the full credibility it needs when large swaths of inventory are still sold even though ads delivered to them may not be — you know — seen. It’s like airlines selling you tickets to flights that may or may not ever take off, but we’ll settle up later.
This approach builds on the movement in the last several years to address the viewability dilemma, including Google’s Active View standard for delivered ads, GroupM’s raising the bar to 100 percent of the ad or the recent inclusion of time-in-view metrics in an Integral Ad Science report. 33Across’ new pre-exchange scoring of ad space may offer a new metric for this evolution.