- Category: April 2012 - CRM & Data Quality
comScore, Inc., a leader in measuring the digital world, announced early this year the launch of its Validated Campaign Essentials™ (vCE) product, a new measurement solution for validating digital ad delivery that enables a holistic view of campaign delivery and a verified assessment of ad-exposed audiences via a single, third-party source.Unlike existing single-point solutions, vCEprovides an unduplicated accounting of impressions delivered across a variety of dimensions, such as ads delivered in-view, in the right geography, in a brand safe environment and absent of fraudulent delivery.
"The display advertising market today is characterized by an overabundance of inventory, often residing on parts of a web page that are never viewed by the user. This dilutes the impact of campaigns for advertisers and represents a drag on prices to publishers," said Dr.Magid Abraham, President and CEO of comScore.
"Conversely, some ads below the fold are quite visible and deserve more credit. comScore's introduction of vCE signals an evolution in digital advertising that will bring greater transparency and accountability to the market. Ultimately, this type of third-party validation will help identify and appropriately price the proportion of online ad inventory that delivers value, improve buying and selling decisions, and instill more confidence and trust in the industry."
vCE enables a comprehensive, holistic view of validated impressions, which can be expressed as 'validated gross rating points', or vGRPs. This new metric reflects measurement of ads that were not only delivered, but that had an opportunity to have an impact on consumers. Validated impressions are also the basis for vCE's campaign audience reports, which include reach and frequency, comprehensive demographics, and behavioral segments only for people with a valid exposure.
vCE Charter Study Findings
To better understand the quality of ad delivery today, comScore conducted an U.S.-based vCE Charter Study, which involved 12 national brands, 3,000 placements, 381,000 site domains and 1.7 billion ad impressions. Select advertisers from the charter study include Allstate, Chrysler, Discover, E*TRADE Financial, Ford, General Mills, Kellogg's, Kimberly Clark, Kraft, and Sprint. All of the impressions analyzed in the study were delivered in iframes and none required publisher site pixels.
All in all the vCE Charter Study includes a variety of detailed findings that shed light on the current state of online ad delivery and its implications for different participants in the online advertising market.
Key findings include:
- In-view rates are eye-opening. The study showed that 31% of ads were not in-view, meaning they never had an opportunity to be seen. There was also great variation across sites where the campaigns ran, with in-view rates ranging from 7% to 100% on a given site. This variance illustrates that even for major advertisers making premium buys there is a lot of room for improvement.
- Targeting audiences beyond demographics can be powerful. Generally, campaigns that had very basic demographic targeting objectives performed well with regard to hitting those targets. For example, those with an objective of reaching people in a particular broad age range did so with 70% of their impressions. Predictably, as additional demographic variables were added to the targeting criteria (e.g. income + gender), accuracy rates of the ad delivery declined. However, the results also showed that 37% of all impressions were delivered to audiences with behavioral profiles that were relevant to the brand (i.e. consumers with demonstrated interests in categories, such as food, auto or sports). One campaign had 67% of its impressions viewed by the target behavioral segment.
- The content in which an ad runs can create problems for any brand. Of the campaigns analyzed, 72% had at least some impressions that were delivered adjacent to objectionable content. While this did not translate to a large number of impressions on an absolute basis (141,000 impressions across 980 domains), it is important to note that 92,000 people were exposed to these impressions. This demonstrates that brand safety should be of concern to all advertisers.
- Fraud is the elephant in the digital room. Fraud is an undeniably large and growing problem in digital advertising. The results showed that an average of 0.16% of impressions across all campaigns was delivered to non-human agents from the IAB spiders & bots list. Although this percentage might appear negligible, there are two important considerations to keep in mind. Only the most basic forms of inappropriate delivery were addressed in this study. When additional, more sophisticated types of fraud are considered, the problem will only get larger. Like brand safety, fraud should be an important concern for all advertisers.
- Digital ad economics: The good guys aren't necessarily winning. The study showed that there was little to no correlation between CPM and value being delivered to the advertiser. For example, ad placements with strong in-view rates are not getting higher CPMs than placements with low in-view rates. Similarly, ads that are doing well at delivering to a primary demographic target are not receiving more value than those that are not. In other words, neither ad visibility nor the quality of the audience reached is currently reflected in the economics of digital advertising.
These findings suggest that measuring all dimensions of ad delivery for every placement in a holistic fashion is critical and that optimizing delivery in-flight is a necessary step in the campaign management process. The findings also support the argument that any digital GRP metric must account for validated, not gross impressions. This validated impression measurement must include 'viewable impressions,' based on the very simple notion that if an ad is not seen, it cannot possibly deliver its intended effect
Across all charter campaigns measured, 69% of the ad impressions were classified as being 'in-view', which means viewable for at least 1 second, the remaining 31 % were delivered but never seen by a consumer, a likely result of a consumer scrolling past the ad before it loaded or a consumer never scrolling the ad into view. In-view percentages varied by site and ranged from 7% - 91%.
"With 31% of vCE Charter Study impressions not being viewable, it is now abundantly clear just how important in-view measurement is to online campaign validation," said Abraham. "In order for any digital GRP metric to be relevant in the online space and to be cross-media comparable, it must include validated 'viewable impressions' in its calculation. While audience and geographic validation are crucial – and should not be ignored – if a digital campaign rating does not also take into account whether or not the ad had the opportunity to be seen, then the metric fails to deliver a true apples-to-apples comparison to all other media."
An average of 4% of ad impressions were delivered outside the desired geography, but individual campaigns ran as high as 15%. In many cases, ads were served in markets where the advertised product is not sold, meaning wasted ad spend and sub-optimal effectiveness results.
Further, 72% of Charter Study campaigns had at least some ads running next to content deemed "not brand safe" by the advertiser, meaning that the content is deemed objectionable by the brand.This type of unsafe delivery has the potential to damage the brand, creating a difficult situation for all members of the digital advertising ecosystem.
Without dounts, vCE represents unique measurement solution that improves overall transparency, accountability and monetization in the digital advertising market.
As Scott McDonald, Senior Vice President, Research & Insights, Condé Nast assures: "It is critical that we can understand the extent to which ads delivered on our sites are actually viewed by the intended audience. This type of insight allows us to improve our relationships with consumers and our advertising partners. comScore'svCE is a welcome innovation, and I am particularly excited about how this measurement solution can help us optimize our site content and the advertising that we deliver on it."