Viewability: In the Eye of the Beholder

As the media industry gets ready to shift from paying for impressions to paying for viewability, knowledgeable observers on both sides have already figured out that it’s difficult for advertisers and publishers to come to an agreement on whether an ad was indeed viewable.  Each side measures viewability from its own perspective. The current situation sorely needs to be resolved by someone who can see things from both perspectives. That’s us here at ZINC.

ZEDO’s geneology is as a publisher ad server, but on its ZINC side it sells high impact formats to ATDs and agencies. As a result, we always know when our publisher partners’ ads are viewable because we serve them. We can always tell whether the actual location of the ad unit is in view. And – as you know – we create ad units for high viewability and are consistently measured as number one in viewability nationwide.  However, because we serve both sides of the ecosystem, we have no troublesome third parties in the middle.  This allows us to get better results for our advertisers’ ad verification  technologies – it gives them better and cleaner data.

Here is what Ad Exchanger says is the weakness in measuring viewability solely from the buy side:

When viewability is measured on the buy side, the viewability solution sits with the advertiser’s ad server. Since the ad server is responsible for serving each and every creative, it’s very easy to know exactly when to start the viewability clock and determine when the creative is rendered for at least one full second.

But due to ad environment challenges, like unfriendly, cross-domain iFrames, advertisers can’t measure every ad unit in every environment, which means some percentage of ad impressions is simply unmeasurable. If a vendor reports that 60% of the ads were in view, with a 70% measured rate, what value do the remaining 30% have? 

The  problem is that the advertiser doesn’t ALWAYS know if the creative was viewable – they can’t always measure. The advertiser’s ad server misses some viewable impressions because it can’t figure out the iframes, read the urls, decipher several stacked ad calls or understand certain browser-device-combinations.

So one side is counting only what they are 100% sure of, and ignoring the rest. The other is counting everything – but why should anyone pay for its (higher) numbers?

Since publishers are measuring fully owned inventory and not dealing with foreign ad environments, they have no difficulty determining whether the location of an ad unit is in view. Put another way, publishers can reliably determine the location of all ad units throughout their web properties virtually 100% of the time.  …

I’ve seen discrepancies … reach up to 20%. 

This is nuts. While one side measures only what they are 100% sure of and the other side with better information measures more, how will we ever achieve a consensus set of measurements?

The only way to achieve better measurement to have your creative  served by a vendor who is also the publisher’s ad server.  That is the advantage of buying from ZINC: one                                           platform from the advertiser end to the publisher end. ZINC provides better viewability – as every agency and ATD finally seems to know.  ZINC allows quality  third parties (e.g. Moat, DV, IAS, Comscore) to better  measure viewability for the advertiser.
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Effective Ad Placement

Where an ad appears on a site can often be a determiner of how well the ad performs. Traditionally ads at the top of a page were assumed to have the best performance. However, advances in both site development and ad formats mean that what was true in the past may no longer be true.

The graph below illustrates the performance of ads on a single site. We’re the ad server, and they have  bought our inArticle ads. We often conduct tests on our own formats to make sure we’ve told the truth about how they perform.

time-spent-grapgIn this case, the axis on the left represents the amount of time spent on the page, and each bar represents a part of the page measured in pixel height. The bars proceed from left to right, with the left most bar indicating the performance of ads at the top of the page and the right most bar representing the performance of ads at the bottom of the page. We’ve conducted this analysis on many of the sites on our premium publisher network.

Our analysis has shown that across a wide range of sites, users spend more than double the time with an ad located around an article than they do at  the top of the page. This demonstrates that formats like our inArticle, which runs a video within an article, can be much more effective than banners on the top of the page, which traditionally have been thought to be the most effective places to advertise.

One caveat to all this : all formats lose engagement as the viewer moves down the page. Even the inArticle format’s viewability will drop tremendously if it is placed below the 2000 px or 50% of the page.

ZEDO Releases VAST 3.0 and VPAID 2.0 Compliant Player

If you’re looking for a reason to choose ZEDO over all the other companies in the ad tech space, you might want to consider our ability to keep continually ahead of where the market is going. We have an engaged and inspired development team that scans the horizon of the quickly changing ad tech field and makes product tweaks almost in real time.
This week  ZEDO, introduced a new video player compliant with both the  VAST 3.0 and the VPAID 2.0 IAB standards. In the future, this player will be used for all ZINC’s new video formats, including  the popular inArticle video. The team was also  able to make few changes to the  InArticle technology using the new player that made it even better.
The changes to inArticle include faster and better running  for desktop browsers in version 3.1. Although this new product won’t be launched formally until later, the preview version is VAST 3.0 compliant and supports passbacks.
ZINC video formats now also support passbacks for VPAID tags. We all know that video ad networks don’t fill every impression that is sent to them,  and many of our customers also do client side RTB, through which they bring down a file that runs on the browser and send a request to a few more ad networks asking if they have further inventory.
Many of the requests sent to these ad networks just return an ad error message because they also don’t have a video ad to serve.We used to lose those opportunities for our clients, but now ZINC video formats can catch the AdError event thrown by  the VPAID tags and pass it back to  the next ad network in line and hence try to  monetize that opportunity instead of wasting it. This will also be part of the formal launch of the product.
One of the most impressive features of the inArticle format, is its leave-behind. In this new version of the format, we’ve increased the leave behind from 130×75 to 160×120 pixels, which is a 505- pixel increase in surface area.
And we’ve done some bug fixes as well.
Although the formal launch of this technology won’t come until later in spring, we’d encourage you to talk to

What is the ZEDO Exchange?

While  publisher-side ad serving was our core business  since our founding in 1999, the part of our business that has been growing most quickly for the past year has been the ZEDO Ad Exchange, our simple, scalable way to  manage both advertisers and publishers conducting business in display banners, videos, mobile, high impact formats and smart programmatic integrations. ZEDO Exchange allows Demand Side Platforms access to the premium high-quality display and video inventory of our premium publisher network.

For advertisers, the ZEDO Ad Exchange offers the best click-through rate in the industry, along with the best of all worlds — instant pricing and availability of ad inventory on newspaper web sites. We’re different from other exchanges and ad networks, because the only ad inventory we offer is avails from our high quality publisher network, which consists of premium brands you already know and trust who are integral parts of local communities and national conversations.

We’re both innovative and smart about the way we run this network: we not only offer high impact formats, but also make sure that the advertiser gets viewable impression where they count — on premium sites.

On the publisher side, ZEDO Exchange is designed to make sure that all  publishers that use ZEDO for ad serving get a fair price for their inventory. This is one of the reasons we do not work on the RevShare or CPC model. We only work on a flat CPM model with our publishers. ZEDO Exchange will pick up inventory only if we meet the agreed CPM. We can also sell impressions to multiple RTB buyers and get maximum CPM from the highest bidder. (ZEDO’s Supply Side Platform (SSP) is Open RTB 2.0 compliant.)

Our Demand Side Platform (DSP) is a single, unified platform from which to manage all aspects of a campaign using a single account (Display Banners, Videos, HIFs, RTB & Mobile). Since all the publishers are linked in one master account, this provides media buyers with maximum efficiency.

Publishers may opt in simply by clicking the “Join ZEDO Exchange” link on their reporting and trafficking UI, or they can give us a heads up via email. After opting in, integration with ZEDO Exchange is very simple. ZEDO has built a smart back-end linking process that makes sure  publishers do not have to spend time trafficking tags or tracking campaigns. Everything is done automatically, and ZEDO Exchange reports will be displayed directly under the Reports section of the Publisher’s ZEDO account.


The Crazy World of Ad Tech

Its a busy world in ad tech right now.  The Lumascape is littered with companies that have vanished, been acquired, had an IPO or pivoted. Some have even gone out of business. Many companies that started on the advertising side now have an offer for publishers, while many sell-side companies, including ourselves, have moved to include demand-side offerings.

We were a publishers’ ad server for the first few years of our existence. But you can’t be in the business for very long without realizing that serving one side of the ecosystem alone doesn’t offer customers a single solution that simplifies their lives. All the companies that began their lives as tools rather than complete products have been forced to develop more complete solutions to compete. That’s why we have spent the last two years focusing on ZINC.

But in the mean time, the vaporware situation hasn’t changed. Some companies still don’t have technology that works, while others have products no one knows they have, because they’re known for something else. Both the advertisers and the publishers know how fast the pace of change in this business occurs, and are trying desperately to find something that really works as promised, or truly solves a problem for more than six months. Meanwhile, stellar newsrooms like the Newark Star-Ledger and are laying off staff in an effort to survive. Ad tech companies might be doing well, but publishers and agencies are still struggling to find their sustainable places in the relatively new world of digital.

As for the data platforms that support advertisers and publishers? Even more complex. There’s a lot of disagreement about just what data is actually helpful. Time has shown that more is not necessarily better.  Is it viewability? And if so, is it comScore‘s metric or Nielsen’s,  or perhaps even Moat’s? Does mere viewability convert to sales?

Is it mobile targeting? Last year,  four online ad companies — retargeting firm Criteo, ad targeter Media6Degrees, ad buying company X+1 and Yahoo — each acquired a mobile ad tech startup over the course of three days. This year, Rubicon’s successful IPO has prepared the Street for potential public offerings from Pubmatic, AppNexus, Turn and MediaMath. It’s only rumor right now, but those rumors have all four of them, and perhaps a few more waiting in the wings.

For the companies, this is great, if distracting, news. For the customers, it may not be so great as the choices narrow and the innovation slows as newly public companies focus on revenue rather than on new product lines.

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.

The Rise of ZINC

Things at ZEDO and in the ad market are so exciting. For a while now we’ve been working on our new division, ZINC, hiring people, moving to a Madison Avenue office in New York, and re-branding as way more than an ad server. In the last month things have continued to accelerate.

This has really been an amazing week for ZINC. It’s as though we have unlocked a pent up desire on the part of media planners for something online that will engage visitors and not violate them, and all we have to do is show up, give a demo, and we get an insertion order. Our sales teams have never been so welcome in the offices of media buyers.

Admittedly, some of our other high impact formats, like the slider and the shuffle, have always done well. They’re easily measured as 99% viewable, and they are visible without being obtrusive. They only appear when a viewer is there to see them, so they can be placed below the place formerly known as the fold. We’re certainly not complaining about their performance; the company has grown revenue about 20% this year (unusual for a company that’s not a startup), and it’s been mostly because of them.

But the icing on ZEDO’s cake, and what makes it seem like a startup again (but with huge resources), is the ZINC division’s new large canvas InArticle video unit, which is not a standard ad space, but so much more. When you hover over the ad, the video begins to play, and the sound goes on. And if you click, the video expands to full screen. People who see it are blown away. Auto brands are using this format to reveal their new models, TV networks to tease their new shows, and CPG companies to show their products. And small agencies across the country buy directly from our online platform:

What’s even better? We always had a network of premium publishers to place these ads with, but now the publishers are more willing than ever to get on board with us. When we show up with an insertion order from a major brand, we no longer have to wait for the contracts to be signed.

What’s missing from this picture? We can’t hire fast enough. We need enthusiastic people who want to be in the advertising business and sell to major brands, entertain agency clients and take meetings with studio heads, and do all the exciting things the ad business is known for. We’re looking for people who have just a bit of experience in digital media or sales, but it’s the energy we really  want, and the willingness to learn and create what advertising will look like in the future.And if sales is not your forte, we also need account reps to take care of these agencies and brands once they’re on board.

ZEDO’s Cloud-Based Next Generation Ad Server


We haven’t been marketing our ad server lately,because it has been in transition. But it is still our flagship product, and recently we’ve done a lot of work to distinguish it from  those of our competitors. ZEDO ad server is now a completely cloud-based next-generation ad server, able to do things our legacy competitors can’t. For example, we can make ad changes on the fly that appear in seconds. And we can scale infinitely.


That’s because we recently rebuilt our ad server on Amazon Web Services, probably the most effective cloud service in the world, the one that runs Netflix. That’s important because Netflix has scaled to be the most important user of the internet worldwide. Currently, it delivers 30% of the downstream traffic on the internet globally, and as much as 75%  of the US traffic during evening prime time. This means it has already proven itself both scalable and reliable.


Amazon asked us to help them write a case study on our partnership, and this is what appears on their website:


ZEDO began working with Amazon Web Services (AWS) as part of its research efforts. After experimenting with prototypes, the ZEDO team determined that AWS provided the reliability and scalability that they needed to support ZEDO’s globally distributed, high-traffic ad server platform.

By taking advantage of AWS, ZEDO was able to build, test and deploy an ad server platform capable of serving billions of impressions per day in just a few months. ZEDO uses Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC), Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Elastic Load Balancing and Auto Scaling to form scalable clusters of servers. “Auto Scaling groups make it easy to deploy new code on a daily basis,” says de Souza. “Developers can innovate, test and deploy without the red tape and logistics around procuring new hardware. The icing on the cake is that they just terminate the servers when they are finished.”


With AWS, we don’t have to spend time thinking about technology infrastructure. Using AWS saves us  time and effort so we can focus on our clients and their businesses:  integrating our services on a single platform running on AWS makes it easier for our customers to choose one or several products. Both we and they have more flexibility.

Since ZEDO moved to  AWS, the we are capable of more detailed ad targeting and can make changes to ads worldwide within minutes. Our quality of service has improved. Ad calls that would typically consist of three to five object requests prior to AWS have been reduced to just one request, because we don’t need to cache everything and can make real time decisions. Fewer calls mean an almost 50 percent improvement in ad delivery time.

It’s also easier for the development team to access different parts of the service, and as a result, developers are able to roll out new features faster than before. Products and features are also being built around Amazon CloudFront.

We credit AWS with removing barriers that we faced with our legacy system. We have far fewer limitations. Without a service like AWS, it would have been hard to build a real-time decision-making ad server at a reasonable cost, without buying data centers around the world and negotiating with multiple parties. Our new system, running on AWS, gives us more flexibility for innovation, room for growth, and reduces our data center costs.

Now we are making that available to you. You might want to consider a change in ad servers. There is a difference.


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Digital Spend by Big Agencies Now Approaches 25%

Not that this is really news to anyone, but advertising dollars continue to shift online.  Four of the Big 6 agency holding companies, Aegis, Havas, Interpublic, and Publicis have contributed to a report by Standard Media Index, which is the best view to date of how dollars are allocated by big agencies on behalf of global brands.

Fueled by double digit growth in every sub-segment, overall digital spending rose 17% during the first quarter to 23.5% of agency media buys.

While mobile (+92%) and exchange-based digital buys (+46%) were the fastest growing sectors, display (+12%) and search (+12%) still account for dominant shares of digital spending. During the first quarter, direct-from-publisher display advertising accounted for 8.6%, and search accounted for 6.2% of all buys made by the major agencies.

We have been anticipating this shift, and have moved ZEDO in several new directions to accommodate it. Behind the scenes, we have strengthened our ad server for greater security, scalability, response time and redundancy. We have made more than two dozen new development, implementation, and account management hires during the last two quarters as we continue to grow with the industry we pioneered. And we are opening our New York office, hopefully on Madison Avenue.
On the product side, far more visible are our high impact formats, which are available to agencies through our new ZINC platform and available to publishers for direct and programmatic sales through ZEDO. Those formats, many tested by ComScore at 99% viewability, include the InView Slider, and FullScreen Video on the Web, the most engaging formats in the industry at this point.
With all the changes in how advertising is bought, display advertising spend still increased 10% in 2012, partly because Latin America is coming online. One of the reasons we strengthened our ad server was to get ready for this global scale as 2 billion people come on the internet this year, many of them through mobile devices. Our high impact formats work well on those devices, especially in the fast-growing tablet market — the favorite way to read news for most consumers.
These formats fit right into where marketers are going: away from direct response, where falling CTRs and falling CPMs are driving both the advertising and the publishing side of the industry to a bottom, and toward brand building — where online advertising will be far more effective. Marketers say brand advertising will pass direct response this year:

63% of marketers project that the dollars allocated to online brand advertising will grow in 2013, while one in five believe the increase will exceed 20%, according to Vizu, a Nielsen company, and the CMO Council.


We’re happy to see better creative, which comes with brand advertising, come into the industry at last. We’re sure it will help realize the potential of digital advertising.


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Agencies Love Our TV Ads on the Web

ZINC Sells High Impact FormatsZinc offers agencies and advertisers premium high impact formats across pc, mobile and tablet. Many of Zinc’s high impact units are guaranteed 99% viewable by comScore, making them the best branding vehicle in the market.
ZINC was founded by ZEDO, the world’s largest independent ad server, pioneering leading digital ad solutions for over 13 years.

In 2007, we announced the launch of  ZincX, a place where advertisers could buy guaranteed premium inventory. Six years later, we are expanding the concept. The main activity of ZINC is to help agencies bring their TV to the web with our  high impact formats.

During the past year, we’ve developed several ways in which advertisers can take their TV creative straight to the web — without adapting it. We have four different formats:

1. InView with video
2. Full Screen TV Ads. 300×250
3. Double video. 300×250
4. Rotating screen shots. 300×250

Our TV Ads on the Web give higher performance and more great inventory.  They are easy to buy and execute: agencies can just email us their TV commercials.

ZINC  has always been different and better than other companies. ZINC  offers only high-visibility, premium advertising positions on high traffic sites. ZINC’s web based interface offers real-time management of campaigns, instant reporting access at any time, and aggressive pricing that allows advertisers to maximize their media budgets. Inventory availability is clear and transparent  and agencies see real-time inventory and actual pricing.

To schedule a demo, or to find out more, contact lana(at)

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