Industry Perspectives

​​A Primer on Viewability and the Viewable Marketplace: Webinar Recap

Blog Post
The AppNexus Team

It’s clear that viewable-based transactions are the future of online advertising. Now that we have the technology to instantaneously separate viewable and non-viewable impressions, there’s just no reason for media buyers to pay for ads no one can see or for publishers to accept mediocre CPMs for their highest-quality inventory.

In a recent webinar, our in-house expert and Alenty co-founder Laurent Nicolas shed light on the importance of viewability measurement and the opportunities for viewable transactions available on the AppNexus platform. Here’s a summary of the topics he covered:

What is viewability measurement?

Prior to AppNexus’ 2014 acquisition of Alenty, Nicolas co-invented a technology capable of telling marketers whether a banner ad ever appeared inside a browser window that was actively in use — as opposed to instances in which ads are served in places on the page the user never scrolls to, or in browser tabs the user never operates.

Today, the Interactive Advertising Bureau defines a viewable banner impression as one in which at least 50% of the ad’s pixels are in view for one second or more (different standards exist for large banners and video ads). Nicolas stressed it’s important to remember viewability is not a performance indicator or a measurement of whether someone actually saw an ad, but rather a way to tell whether the user had “an opportunity to see” the ad.

What are the challenges of viewability?

Though some buyers are transacting on viewability — meaning they have reached an agreement with a publisher to pay only for viewable impressions — Nicolas explained that these deals have in the past required both sides to first clear several obstacles.

Most notably, media buyers and publishers frequently use different vendors, meaning there are often conflicting measurements of the same inventory. In order to figure out which impressions a buyer will pay for, advertisers and publishers need to iron out discrepancies in a monthly reconciliation process that can be both frustrating and time-consuming. On top of that, working with a third-party measurement vendor usually requires a manual and costly set-up process.


Why the AppNexus Viewable Marketplace is the future of viewable transactions.

In the last portion of the webinar, Nicolas highlighted the benefits of the AppNexus Viewable Marketplace, which gives buyers and sellers a pain-free way to transact on viewability directly on the platform.

What makes the AppNexus Viewable Marketplace so powerful is that it is baked right into the trading platform, requiring no additional fees or set-up time. This allows us to measure viewability right after the ad is served, and wipes out vendor discrepancies by providing a single ruling on the viewability of a given impression.

The marketplace provides buyers with an opportunity to set a vCPM (cost per thousand viewable impressions) price they are willing to bid and allows them to pay publishers only after a served impression is measured viewable. And if sellers are willing, the two sides can use the platform to transact on their own viewability standards separate from the IAB’s 50%-for-one-second definition.

For sellers, transacting on vCPM optimizes yield by allowing them to access additional demand from premium buyers that crave viewable impressions. In order to help publishers maximize revenues, the AppNexus platform uses a highly accurate predictive engine to assess the probability that an impression will be viewable and allocate inventory accordingly. For instance, if a buyer puts forth a $10 vCPM bid for an impression that has a 75% chance of viewability, the bid will be converted into a $7.50 CPM that can compete against other CPM bids.

Right now, the viewable marketplace is available for web and mobile display inventory, with video viewability transactions set to enter a beta test next quarter. As its capabilities continue to grow, Nicolas expects more and more transactions to be made using the vCPM model that will ultimately be the standard for all online advertising.