Babar Khan Javed
Apr 18, 2018

Improving ad standards means investing in them: GroupM

The EVP of brand safety at GroupM shared the terms advertisers must enforce in order to achieve a clean digital supply chain of 100% viewability.

John Montgomery
John Montgomery

GroupM says advertisers must vote with their dollars to ensure brand safety.

On a recent tour across the Asia-Pacific region, John Montgomery, EVP of brand safety at GroupM, stopped in Singapore to help GroupM's clients understand their tolerance for brand risk, which can often vary based on product and service categories, he says.

"Fraud, viewability, contractual compliance, ad blocking, are all financial risks because it diminishes the value and budget of the client's investment," said Montgomery.

The other two risks advertisers expose themselves to are legal and reputational, wherein the privacy of a visitor or intended audience if compromised or an ad may appear alongside content that is not in line with the values an advertiser wants to be associated with.

According to Montgomery, GroupM ensures brand safety by holding publishers to a higher standard for being rewarded on impressions, implementing an ad verification tool that monitors and blocks unsafe impressions, and by limiting ad inventory.

Achieving quality inventory involves publisher adoption of impression measurement tools, avoiding ad networks, audience extensions, private marketplaces while demanding supply sources use Ads.txt and exclusively working with TAG certified supply partners.

Montgomery's tour follows the implementation of brand safety practices at a number of WPP agencies as well as GroupM's global rollout of viewability standards last summer

The interlinked viewability issue

Unlike the Media Ratings Council (MRC) standard, which demands at least 50% of pixels in view for 1 second in display and 2 seconds in the video, GroupM demands 100% viewability for one simple reason: data shows the willingness to purchase lifts when the intended viewer sees the entire ad.

Referencing a skit by Rob Lowe on viewability standards, Montgomery said that advertisers can improve brand safety by remembering that demand for it dictates supply.

Comparing the results from the MRC standard with the GroupM standard, Montgomery's dedicated team for brand safety found a staggering gap in awareness outcomes for an automotive client.

"Against aided brand awareness, total awareness plus the MRC standard was about 5% awareness," said Montgomery. "But when you look at the GroupM standard, which is 100% in view, awareness was dramatically higher, purchase intent was dramatically higher, and the attribute difference to others was high as well."

As a result of similar proofs, GroupM objectively knows that demanding a higher viewership threshold at 100% is vindicated, even impacting purchase intent exponentially.

"It's not just if that ad is 5% more viewable it can sell 5% more," said Montgomery. "If the ad is 5% more viewable you have the opportunity to sell maybe 20% more and if its 20% more viewability you have the opportunity to sell 70% more."

What's the frequency?

A different issue to viewability standards relates to mismanaged ad frequency, the practice whereby an advertiser will stop serving an ad once a set limit of impressions results in no actions.

"We would measure the frequencies so we have a good idea of what level of frequency is effective and what level of reach," said Montgomery. "You don't want 5% of the audience seeing the ad a hundred times and another portion seeing it one time, so you have to plan your frequency curve."

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