Browsers Can Determine Whether Viewability is Measurable

We’ve been yakking about viewability in display ads for more than two years, and now it’s finally going to happen. When we first began to develop our high impact formats, we tested them with comScore, where they were judged 99% viewable. But the IAB’s Metrics That Matter initiative has upped the ante, and the Media Rating Council has given us a choice of eleven vendors who can help advertisers make more savvy buys.  But now we hear that some media buyers are going to specify 100% viewability, so we’re going back to the drawing board to see how best to get that last 1%. It may not be possible right now, but we’ll still try.

Since we’re now highly focused on both mobile and video, we decided to run some tests of our newer formats with Moat, one of the  companies certified by the Media Rating Council, to  see how well our mobile and video ads perform. (We’ll let you know.) In doing research on the vendors certified to test viewability, we found there are some differences in what and how they measure.

For example, some of the certified companies have no independent capability to measure viewability within cross domain iFrames, but simply offer publishers iFrame Bridge technology. Others leverage “Frame Buster” code, which allows for measurement within iFrames. And still others can measure viewability for some browsers, but not  in Webkit browsers. That means using their viewability technology doesn’t allow you to measure impressions in  Safari, Opera, and perhaps also Chrome.

When you combine the different browsers with the added complexities of video and mobile rather than simple  static display ads, you quickly realize that metrics will have to improve before viewability can truly be accurately measured across a multi-screen campaign.

What does this mean for advertisers? We think for now it means that 100% viewable is too much to expect for a campaign that may be running on many different browsers. Media planners are going to have to learn more about the subtleties of viewability before they begin buying on it, and they’re going to have to learn what is possible and what is pie in the sky for now.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t all aim for making more ads viewable; it’s just that we should know where the line is between possible and impossible.


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ZEDO Thanks Ad:Tech India for a Great Conference

As founder of ZEDO, I have been to many ad:tech events. The first  I can remember was at the Hilton hotel in San Francisco – probably in late 1999 or early 2000. The keynote speaker was from a company called Engage: a long gone ad serving company.  Another memorable one was in LA in 2001. We had a joint booth with Specific Media who was a big customer of ours at the time. It was memorable mostly because there were only exhibitors there – no one was walking between the booths!

But it was great to be at ad:tech Delhi 2014 this year. This was the third or fourth ad:tech in India and it was probably the best. The energy all around was high. Everyone was in a good mood and ready to do business. Our booth was taller, wider, and better lit than the others. It looked great. The ZEDO and ZINCbyZEDO logos were modern and vibrant and well co-ordinated. The ZEDO bags were seen all over the place.

Our annual party at the Rubicon bar was full of senior people, fun and energy. Even the BBC worldwide head of Ad Ops and 5 people from his team attended and stayed at the party.  Terence, Abbas and Abdulla made sure that I spent at least a little time with all the people who wanted to meet me. The Associate VP of Sales for Money Control  had not seen our InArticle or mobile High Impact Format and was excited to see them and said they are looking for innovation.

One other noticeable thing  was that  India Today, which is selling our High Impact/High CTR formats, is our biggest supporter. They were evangelizing ZEDO technology and service proudly to all their friends. That is the best thing for us. The whole ZEDO team should be very proud of this. Our innovation is really helping our customers and in return they are really rooting for and helping us. So let’s keep pushing for publishers to implement the InArticle and the mobile High Impact Format, and also sell it themselves.

In advertising it is always important to test two things and see which works better. Therefore we changed our flyers to talk about High CTR Formats instead of High Impact Formats to see if this got us more interest. I am waiting to see if that language works  better.  Personally, I think advertisers just focus on CTRs, no matter how much the dialogue appears to change.

When advertisers ask me how we get higher CTRs, we  explain that because we have years of technical experience we innovate new formats and continually improve them . Only real technology companies can do things like this. Examples of continuous improvements are our leave-behind on the InArticle and the static clickable image that is shown after the video ad has finished playing. Because we are a tech company, advertisers can easily believe that we get click-throughs from better technology – not the fake clicks many networks offer through bots and fraud.

The time is right in India. Internet usage is finally taking off. Mobile is also taking off with many sites now seeing half their impressions coming from smart phones. This is exciting. We have timed our best technology and best video formats just when publishers are most in need of them.  Mobile and video ad demand is rocketing and will take ZEDO with it. The same move to video and mobile (away from banners) is happening in the US too. Jack Wagner, ZEDO head of Publisher Development, says that everyone at Digiday  Publisher Summit was looking for video formats and mobile ad formats. 2014 is our year.

For Viewability and Brand Safety Advertisers Choose ZEDO Ad Server

In a market of incomplete information, you can claim anything. That’s how ads are called “viewable” when they really are not. As a buyer of ads, especially a buyer who is buying on a real-time bidding (RTB) platform,  you could be buying anything. In this scenario, the best case is that the ad isn’t seen. The worst case is that it is seen someplace you didn’t intend it to go.

This is going to be especially true on video pages, which are heavy traffic draws. If you as an advertiser are buying for reach, you are probably buying on numbers of impressions. But your ad is likely to go through four or five networks from the one on which you bought it to the site where it actually runs. And all of this is done in near-real time, by algorithms untouched by human hands.

Sure, there’s ad verifying software, and it helps a bit, but the ad verifiers often can’t see the ads either. They claim that they can see through iframes to the actual place an ad appears, but most browsers no longer allow that. Instead, those verifiers may generate dummy impressions, for which you have to pay. The more networks and exchanges that get between advertiser and publisher, the less it is possible with current browsers to “jump the frames” and tell where the ad is appearing.

Publishers are beginning to install code so their own inventory can be identified. Otherwise the advertiser has paid, but the publisher may not receive the revenue.

In a perfect world where a publisher sells directly to a trading desk, ads can be verified. How often does THAT happen nowadays? We’re trying to make that happen at ZEDO by assuring advertisers who buy ZINC formats to run on our ZEDO premium network that there will be no other middlemen, and that they will not be buying programmatically but buying direct. In the past few years, we’ve put a great deal of time and effort, as well as research and development, into developing a  network that can assure ad buyers reach, without sacrificing safety. In this way, our publishers also stand to combat the falling prices sometimes attributed to programmatic buying.


Mobile Video Advertising Takes Off in 2014

It has taken a long time for advertisers to accept that video could be bought like television rather than on the basis of click-throughs, the antiquated metric they were accustomed to in display advertising (and which doesn’t work anymore anyway).

What does this mean? For the industry, it means that digital video advertising has finally come of age. For ZEDO, among other things it means we’ve developed an SDK for our ZINC clients that will allow a video ad to play when a user closes or minimizes an app. It’s an entirely new format that won’t interrupt the use of the app itself, but will be a new form of in-app, or perhaps better called “after-app” advertising, and it will be acceptable to new privacy standards because when a user chooses the free version of an app he or she  implicitly consents to view advertising.

ZEDO’s new SDK can also layer on location-based information to make the targeting more precise, and further layer on contextual data. including negative keyword exclusions. The format delivered is a highly targeted, non-interruptive mobile video ad for our ZINC buyers, who are letting us know that they want something beyond pre-roll — something that will let them contact an audience that isn’t viewing video sites. They’re blown away when they see these new formats.

For the past year on both the ZEDO and the ZINC sides we’ve focussed all of our R&D on video and mobile video, because there are many problems left to solve in the mobile video advertising arena before video advertising becomes as exciting and effective as TV advertising has been for the past fifty years. I’ve often reiterated that I thought online advertising could be as good an experience for the viewer as TV, and 2014 is the year in which this will come to fruition.

However, I’m not sure I predicted the speed of the shift to mobile. The Consumer Electronics Association’s December survey revealed that 80% of new buyers opt for a smart phone.

In the mean time, on the ZINC side, we have launched an “automated buying” platform, through which agencies can buy automatically without buying “programmatically.” There’s a real difference between those two ways of buying, and while programmatic buying often means a loss of control, automating the buying process can be a time-saver for media planners and still let them keep control of where and how they buy.

It is going to be a super 2014, and we’re ready to get back at it.

For Holiday Ads, inArticle Video Fills the Bill

It’s amazing now narrowly the discussion of video advertising has focused. Most participants view it merely as placing ads in front of, in the midst of, or at the end of video content. Let’s call that advertising on video.

That’s a real miss for media planners who have video ads they’d like to deploy with greater reach during the holiday sason. There’s a large audience that doesn’t frequent video sites, yet spends much of the day online. Those consumers are READING. They’re getting information about everything from their finances to the weather to what they’re going to give for Christmas, but they’re not getting it from YouTube. Most of these people visit premium sites and tend to be people with more money than the younger people who frequent YouTube. Because they are information gatherers, they also tend to be more educated and they skew a bit older. You can’t reach them on video because they’re busy, but they do keep up with the news, or the ball scores, or the health sites.

To reach those more affluent, more educated consumers, a format like our ZINC InArticle unit is ideal. It displays a video ad  alongside an article the site visitor is reading.  This format deployed over our premium network gives advertisers unduplicated reach.

As you can see, these ad formats are not involved in the discussion of whether TV is dead, is shifting online, or whatever the latest ad tech distraction is.  It is irrelevant whether TV has shifted online, or even if these consumers watch TV at all. These are not ads in video, they’re engaging, high impact video ads in a print environment. They display in standard IAB sizes, and they can be placed wherever you might place a display ad, although they can use content made for TV or video. Because they ARE video, these formats are more engaging. Although they do not auto-play, if the user mouses over them the volume turns on. And if a visitor clicks on the ad, it expands to full screen. It’s ideal for new car launches, financial service products, most luxury goods, and even consumer packaged goods.

Our initial tests of these formats sold through our ZINC platform demonstrate substantially higher levels of engagement and recall. So if you’re looking for a way to reach new customers with existing video ads, inArticle could be your best choice.



Mobile Video Plays in Holiday Advertising

We are entering the holiday season, otherwise known as the advertising season. Retail forecasts are less than glowing, and stores are adjusting their hours and promotions accordingly. It appears that as soon as we get up from the table on Thanksgiving, we’ll be heading off to a sale.

And how will we find out about those bargains? Probably on our mobile devices if we listen to Macy’s CMO Martine Reardon, who is behind a new campaign promoting the Macy’s app as a component of its holiday advertising. In her view, all consumers are relying on mobile more to make purchase decisions. And with mobile comes mobile video. Both in-app video and video on mobile sites will play a big role in holiday advertising.

Mobile video can be especially effective if it’s not tied exclusively to video sites like You Tube, which attracts people who are watching video, but not necessarily the audience that wants a given advertiser’s product. Rather, video advertising should also appear  on premium sites targeted to the desired audience.  Ad formats that appear in the midst of articles are especially effective according our own experience with the InArticle format.

And now, as Ad Age points out, these ads can be measured.

The industry has grown up beyond its infancy over the last year, recognizing that the selling power of TV also needs to be in place for digital. Enter Nielsen’s Online Campaign Ratings (OCR). Enter comScore’s Validated Campaign Essentials (vCE). Enter Vindico‘s advanced reporting (OpenPixel). The adoption of GRP-based measurements acts as a great indication that the market is growing up, and following the footsteps of its older — and certainly wealthier — TV parent. The focus on demographic delivery and content validation is reflection of maturity. The biggest challenge that advertisers face is not content. It’s not reach. It’s not demographics. It’s all about the execution of the ads.

And now we can also offer transparency into how and when the ad was delivered, Broadly speaking, execution must reflect transparency into how and where the ad was delivered within a page.  Because our ads appear in traditional online display formats, we can offer information about them that most ad tech companies can not.

That’s our holiday gift to you; delivery of mobile video in unusual formats that drive attention to your ads.


Unduplicated Reach for Video Ads

Everyone knows intuitively that digital video advertising must be effective — after all, look how the number of people watching it keeps growing. But are you reaching the same people with your digital video ads that you reach on TV? Most media planners don’t know.

They’re just beginning to focus on measuring digital video, because they are beginning to spend more for it. The pre-roll on YouTube, much as it is disliked, is insurance that the ad is being seen. That’s the only sure-fire metric.

In some respects, video ads can be measured like TV ads are measured. Nielsen can tell us who is viewing what during a certain time slot –IF there’s a time slot. For most video there isn’t. Can Nielsen tell us about online video that’s always there, viewed on demand, time-shifted, seen on a mobile device?

The answer to that question is yes and no. Current measurement techniques can tell you who has watched your ad. But, like TV ad measurement, it doesn’t yet tell you how that viewership influences actual sales.  Like most TV advertising, most video advertising is for “brand lift,” rather than performance.

However, brand lift is a weak metric when you have to take your media plan into a budget forecasting meeting. Especially if you don’t know whether the people you reach on YouTube are the same people you reach on TV.

It stands to reason there might be a great deal of duplicated reach between people who watch video and people who watch TV. As Adit Abhyankar said recently,

“if [marketers] are chasing other proxy brand metrics without un-duplicating audience reach across advertising platforms, they will not know how much of their digital video audience engagement is incremental and how much they would have gotten anyway. It’s the equivalent of having a bazooka in your arsenal, but only thinking you have something as powerful as a water gun.”

But what about people who don’t watch videos online, but could be your market. How can you use video ads to reach them?

Last week, participating in some agency meetings where the question of unduplicated reach came up, we realized ZINC had an answer: our InArticle formats do not run on video sites as pre-roll or post-roll, but on pages where people are actually reading. They can be seen, because they are different from what else is on the page, but they are unobtrusive, because they don’t play until the viewer gets there, and the audio doesn’t come on unless the viewer hovers. Even better, if the viewer clicks, the video expands to the size of the page.

We’ve realized this is powerful stuff, because not only do we have the partnerships set up with both comScore and Nielsen to measure view ability, we also have a format that provides marketers with unduplicated reach. Bring on Q4!







Apple Rollout of Tablets Bodes Well for Mobile Ad Prices

So Apple announced at its most recent events that it has had the strongest iPhone launch ever. The company then went on to say that it has sold 170,000,000 iPads. If that doesn’t tell you something about the value of mobile advertising, nothing will.

Along with the iPad revolution, mobile advertising has also risen dramatically. Although there are still price differentials, they will be made up for in volume.

The newest iPads, which will be available to order in early November, and probably given to everyone who doesn’t already have one as Christmas gifts, are thinner than the old ones. The large iPad is lighter, too, and has been repositioned as the iPad Air — meaning it is expected to replace the laptop even for office users. The Apple workflow software, iWork, which is like Microsoft Office, is now free, which means families will buy their students iPads instead of computers for school, and governments will continue to issue them to employees. The iPad is already the standard issue to employees of the Rwandan government. Oh, and did we tell you that the new iPad mini is available with retina display.

Older models have not been taken out of the lineup, but have simply been offered at a lower price; you can now buy an iPad for $299.

Let’s not even talk about  the other brands, such as Google’s Nexus 7 that are all selling well, but just focus on how Apple has repositioned its products, because Apple may not be the biggest in the market, but it’s the ultimate thought leader in the mobile device market.

When Steve Jobs introduced the first iPads, in an era that now seems like the dark ages but was really April 2010,  he positioned it as the “lean back” device; the device for consuming content. It soon became the way people watched video. And it looks as if TIm Cook has now repositioned the tablet as more than just a consumption device; it may soon be the only computer people in developed countries own, just as the smartphone is the only computer many people in developing countries own. It is about access to content inexpensively and on the move, and access to tools of content production as well.

We saw this in 2010 and began developing mobile advertising formats with our team. The suite of High Impact formats we’ve been selling to agencies and brands through ZINC have become highly successful for us, and the inArticle video format,  has been called game-changing by agencies who have seen it and signed up. InArticle, which appears alongside printed content is a way to expose brands to new audiences that are reading rather than watching video to which you can append pre-roll.

in 2014, we predict prices for mobile ads will rise as well, and will come to an equivalency with desktop ads.

And we’ve been right before:-)



ZINC: High Impact Formats for Brand Impact

Are you wondering what the relationship is between ZEDO and ZINC.? Many of our customers are. It’s time for some good “talking points” about ZINC, ZEDO‘s advertiser subsidiary.
Because we are a big proponent of user initiation in advertising and an even bigger proponent of visibility, ZINC has developed a suite of high impact formats for agencies to use for brand messaging on mobile. We know how quickly users are moving to mobile and we  help advertisers meet them there .
This is a different way to get a brand message in front of users, and a better option than pre-roll, because it encourages a higher level of engagement and it can scale quickly and globally as pre-roll, with its limited supply of inventory, cannot.
These ads can be embedded in articles, and they’re not tied to a piece of video content to deliver their message. In addition, we have a proprietary trigger mechanism for the ad that prevents it from appearing until the viewer is there, ie., has scrolled down that far on a page. ( If the user scrolls, she’s there.) After the trigger, the ad will auto-play, but with the sound off. Mousing over the ad turns on the sound, and clicking to full screen turns any smart phone or tablet into a full screen video player.
If the visitor doesn’t click, the experience is very much like pre-roll, but unlike that video format it doesn’t prevent the visitor to your site from consuming your content. In a simpler version of the “Skip Ad” feature on many sites, this format, which we are calling InArticle for now, allows a reader to keep scrolling if she doesn’t wish to view the ad.
A because ZINC is part of ZEDO and works with the ZEDO network of Tier 1 publishers and news sites, InArticle has gotten the publisher adoption to allow you to scale your ads globally. We have hundreds of sites, a publisher network that allows marketers to access the right audience with their existing video assets. No creative customization is necessary.
Feel free to email to learn more about this novel, ideal branding message platform.


Business Insider: Mobile Exploding


To answer the call for an industry leading technology in the ad space ZEDO has invested resources in the ZINC High Impact product suite. Our leading platform provides the technology to make an impact on the right audience on web and mobile. ZINC is fostering an environment for effectively reaching consumers on mobile devices – a goal that many have attempted, but none have successfully achieved. A new study conducted by Business Insider puts ‘mobile usage at an all-time high’ sharing that ‘we’ve reached a usage tipping point’ as ‘mobile was the only media type to grow in total U.S. Consumer minutes spent per day from 2010 to 2012’.

ZINC is differentiated and gaining prominence among brand marketers and high level agency execs because of the highly visible nature of its mobile video formats. ZINC is able to connect with consumers while they are engaged with the most personal device they own – their phone. The ability to adapt, create, and innovate in this space is dependent on the ability to understand how consumers use mobile smartphones. ZINC presents brands the opportunity to expand mobile reach and engage at the most intimate level with consumers.


Because ZINC provides game-changing video formats that are both non-intrusive and highly visible, and plugs into a network of Tier 1 publishers who are part of ZEDO’s customer base, advertisers can gain immediate access to the “right” global audience with the reach and frequency they need to get their messages out.