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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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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 sales@zincx.com.

New Ad Technologies Work Connect Readers to Advertisers

Every once in a while, it’s good to be reminded that the goal of a newspaper, although it may seem to be just delivering news to readers, is also to deliver readers to advertisers. Traditionally, content in newspapers has been subsidized by ad revenue, and for the past decade the way advertisers connect to their readers has been shifting — first from print to online, and now from search to display, and from “one price fits all” to real time auctions.

One of the newest trends, the rise of Real Time Bidding (RTB) in which inventory from publishers is sold by auction in real time, has begun to change how readers are delivered.

A user heads to a page on a publisher’s website, causing it to start loading. In the same instant the publisher sends out a ‘bid request’ to thousands of potential advertisers saying, “We’ve got this user who is 30, male and based in New Jersey, US, and in the past has searched for return air tickets to London, visiting a page on our site. How much are you willing to bid for being the only ad on this page?”

Within about 100 milliseconds the publisher ad server (like ZEDO) gets bids from different advertisers, which it then analyses to figure out the highest bidder. The winner is alerted by the publisher and allowed to place its ad on the page.

The remarkable thing about this entire process is how fast and how often it takes place. The entire series of to-and-fro communication between publisher and advertisers takes place in 300-500 milliseconds, causing no visible delay to the user.

The process is repeated for every ad on the page, and it connects the “right” reader with the “right” (targeted) ad.

In the US, IDC estimates that real time advertising will grow at a compounded rate of 71 per cent in the US until 2015 and end up being 27 per cent of the overall online ad spending. In Europe, growth is expected to be even faster — above 100% annually.

The prices that publishers receive from these auctions are not yet very exciting. But they will grow. The gating factor is how willing publishers are to spend on new technology. We think the publishers will realize that there’s more to online advertising than the old standard 3 ad sizes, and will begin to monetize their sites with innovative formats like our InView Formats, TVAds OnPage, and other eye-catchers. That inventory is more effective and in short supply. Therefore the auction will generate higher prices for publishers.

Related articles:
ZEDO’s New InView Slider Runs on Any Ad Server (zedo.com)
Internet Ads Can (and Will) be As Effective as TV (zedo.com)
Publishers: Now You Can Monetize Below the Fold (zedo.com)

Monitoring Digital Ads for Effectiveness

Larry Allen, a Business Insider contributor, recently wrote that we need a new way to define ad impressions. In his article, he correctly points out that the old definition of an ad impression is obsolete:

“Today we have a different challenge: there are many new types of ad formats with a variety of ways to measure and, more importantly, publishers have evolved by creating websites that look more like blog rolls or scrolls of pages. These changes are rendering the old technical definition of an ad impression obsolete.”

That’s correct. Readers who would only look at the top of the page two years ago will zoom through a seemingly infinitely long page today — if there’s content they want to see.

Where we at ZEDO differ from Larry is in what we think of the new method put forth by IAB, 4As and ANA: we embrace it. We think it’s right. He says

“The IAB, and other similar organizations (4As and the ANA), have put forth a plan to promote a new measure that would only count viewable impressions. This effort serves to improve the quality and performance of online advertising and protect the advertiser from paying for unseen ads.

In theory, this change sounds great, but it may have unexpected repercussions – some good, and some bad, depending on your position. Marketers may initially like the idea of more control, as they will only pay for impressions that are in view to the consumer. Publishers will enjoy the increased pricing options on viewable placements and rewards for highly engaging content. Even ad networks and exchanges would benefit from eliminating the question of quality and creating more opportunities to fill branding campaigns.”

So where is the problem?  Allen thinks it lies in the fact that new rules might not take into consideration account time view. He also worries that without engaging content, inventory could drop;  and he sees a new need for monitoring whether an ad is actually in view. We already measure all this.

We have been testing  new measurement techniques with our InView ad formats and many of our publisher partners. The publishers have found that the slider is in view 99% of the time. They also find it gives them a new revenue source.“We decided to work with ZEDO because its products  enable us to offer our customers more creative solutions through monetizing a new segment of our inventory.” says Sandy Lohr, Vice President of Sales for Advance Internet. “We share ZEDO’s vision to improve online advertising for brand advertisers.”

Since we are already using Comscore‘s monitoring technology, we can immediately fill that new need for monitoring. We are already doing it.


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Publishers: Now You Can Monetize Below the Fold

No advertiser wants to pay for an ad that isn’t seen. In fact, until recently, advertisers who bought both directly and through through exchanges were very focused on ads that “performed” — ads that caused the reader to respond. Google is built on the Pay-per-Click model: the advertiser doesn’t pay unless the consumer clicks on the ad. Most traditional display advertising, however, wasn’t like that.

And the PPC model isn’t appropriate for every brand in every circumstance; more sophisticated advertisers now understand the utility of online advertising for “brand lift,” or “social engagement,” or just sheer visibility. While the call to action may not involve a direct activity on the site where the ad is shown —  “order now” vs. “visit your Ford dealer to see our 2012 models,”– most advertisers now agree that branding itself is a worthwhile use of online advertising dollars.

This type of advertising is judged by its cost per thousand impressions, known as CPMs. (Wonder where the M comes from? It stands for Mille, which is thousand in French.)

If you are a publisher, you know you only have a certain amount of screen real estate “above the fold,” — at the top of your site. Below the fold, where users must scroll, is traditionally viewed as inferior placement.

But those areas can now be monetized through CPM ads– especially if the ads are striking. Readers do come to read stories below the fold on most newspaper and magazine sites (if you want some good examples, Take a look at Huffington Post, which offers almost limitless scrolling, but has ads only on the top right sid of the home page,  and the Daily Mail, where Verizon runs ads both above and below the fold.) Verizon will be paying less for the ad below the fold, but that ad will  nevertheless be seen, because readers do scroll down. Huffington Post has lost an opportunity here; and now it’s possible to prove that to an advertiser.

There are now several services that help advertisers verify that below-the-fold ads are not misspent money and make publishers more aggressive about offering inventory below the fold, after educating advertisers about how often those ads get viewed.

DoubleVerify provides online advertising verification. The company seeks to increase online advertising accountability and transparency by providing agencies, marketers, publishers and ad networks with real-time audit and verification of online advertising transactions, while Adxpose focuses on both “ad verification” and “ad safety.” It tells advertisers if anyone actually saw their ad online (was the ad above the fold or below the fold on any given webpage and how many people actually scrolled down to look at it?), and in what context the ads were shown. For instance, most major brand advertisers don’t want their ads shown next to porn or other content not deemed to be “brand-safe.” With Adxpose, and other available tools, an advertiser knows.

It will take a while for new, “in-view guaranteed”, below-the-fold advertising to become accepted, but in the mean time it will give the most adventurous advertisers an edge, and because of superior analytics, there’s not much actual risk.

We’ve been experimenting with better below-the-fold formats, and Zedo has some pretty original and compelling formats we’d be happy to show you if you are interested.

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Solving the Problem of Global Ad Compliance: ZEDO Partners with GeoEdge

In a global online publishing environment, all  advertising laws and regulations are not the same. How do you ensure that content appears accurately in hundreds of  locations? And how do you monitor your advertising policies to make sure you comply with the laws of each country?

Large publishers with a worldwide presence have had difficulty enforcing compliance with the laws and regulations of different jurisdictions. We’ve been especially aware of this because we have been serving the online publishing industry  with ads almost since it began.

Now we think we have found our publishing clients an effective solution. ZEDO has partnered with GeoEdge Ltd., the leading geo-visibility solution provider, to give our publishers have clear visibility into  their global ad inventory and enforce compliance. This should also help you maximize your SEO and SEM globally. After all you can’t measure what you don’t monitor.

GeoEdge, an advanced geo-location toolset, helps publishers, advertisers, ad networks and SEO/SEM experts  view web content on a geographical basis – from virtually any location in the world. Its tools will give our publishers unrivalled compliance enforcement and the ability to monitor entire global ad inventories on one screen, ensuring that ad policies and rules are not breached. Publishers can check that content appears accurately in different markets around the world, comply with governmental and organizational policies in each country, and reduce hassle with more effective and efficient QA.

GeoEdge will now be a part of our platform, providing even more value to our existing publishers and helping us grow our US customer base. Traditionally recognized as a partner for publishers,  we offer our customers more advertising technology options, more visibility of analytics and data, and more ways to cut cost and increase revenue. ZEDO’s feature set is specialized for the needs of publishers with growing inventory, a growing user base, and an urgent need for more efficient ad inventory management.

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Publishers: Why Private Premium Exchanges are Best for You

Advertisers jumped on the idea of ad exchanges when they first came to the market. But for publishers, the advent of exchanges only meant a way of taking remnant impressions and selling them off at the best price they could get. Many leading brands don’t want to be “seen” in the space available; they want to be seen in quality outlets. Brands need a place to buy ads against premium content.

Enter private exchanges, open only to high quality, brand safe, content driven, trusted publishers. Many private exchanges have gotten a lot of press because they talk about limiting the sites that can join –- which is a good step forward.  However, at the end of the day these “private exchanges” are simply auctioning off remnant impressions using Real Time Bidding, just like today’s remnant exchanges.

A Premium Exchange is a private exchange that goes even further. In addition to restricting sites, it actually changes the way inventory is sold, to better match the way brand advertisers buy.  Brand advertisers want a high level of transparency and control of where and when their ads run. They are willing to pay a small premium for this. Premium exchanges bring both high quality brand safe sites to advertisers and also sell that inventory on a guaranteed basis as required for a brand media plan.

The Publisher Perspective

Publishers want:

  • High fill rates
  • High percentage of good CPM campaigns
  • Good ad quality
  • No competition with the publisher’s sales reps

Here’s how new premium ad exchanges stack up against traditional d networks in meeting publisher needs:

1. Fill Rates

Premium Exchanges limit whom they target to high quality brand advertisers. Ad Networks also sell to performance advertisers. So the ad networks will have better fill rates, though at a lower CPM (see below).

Networks win.

2. CPMs

Ad networks find some high quality brand advertisers that will pay the publisher good CPMs but sell most to performance advertisers who pay low CPMs.  Premium Exchanges are different. They are built to appeal only to brand advertisers.  100% of their campaigns will be sold to brand advertisers who pay the higher price to get ease of use, transparency and control over when and where their ads run. So Premium Exchanges get publishers higher CPMs.

Premium Exchanges win.

3. Ad quality

Publishers want high quality ads to appear on their sites. They love to see BMW or Lego ads on their site but hate to see diet ads.  Premium Exchanges like ZINC Exchange are designed for premium brand advertisers only. Ad quality is therefore be high.

Premium Exchanges win here, too.

4. Conflict with Publisher Sales Reps

Publishers hate seeing a quality advertiser buy from a remnant network because they found a lower price there.

Premium Exchanges, however, do not compete with the sales team. Premium Exchanges sell the same guaranteed inventory that the sales reps sell AND they sell it at the same price as the sales team. So there is no conflict. In fact a Premium Exchange allows a publisher’s sales rep to find more advertisers. So from a Publisher’s perspective,  it’s more desirable for their sales team to partner with Premium Exchanges.

Premium Exchanges beat ad networks 3-1

Overall publishers love most things about Premium Exchanges – except the fill rate. Yet, over time as more agencies and local advertisers see how easy it is to buy from an Exchange, the fill rates will climb. Premium Exchanges are a godsend to any publisher with high quality content. However they won’t be much use to low value UGC inventory sites who aren’t allowed onto these private exchanges.

Ad networks may be seriously damaged or killed off by Premium Exchanges. The remnant exchanges took a lot of their high volume low priced business. Now, Premium Exchanges are taking their high priced business too. Networks are getting squeezed on both ends and will have to fight for survival.