Faaez Samadi
Jul 4, 2017

Viewability “just a box-check”, not an effective metric

Brands and agencies need to think of viewability as just a starting point when it comes to meaningful insights and analytics in digital advertising, said the CEO of Inskin Media.

Hugo Drayton
Hugo Drayton

Viewability is nothing more than a “hygiene factor” when it comes to measurement in digital advertising, and the industry needs to “move swiftly on to something more helpful and interesting,” according to Hugo Drayton, CEO of video and rich media ad firm Inskin Media.

With the debate continuing around effective metrics in digital advertising, Drayton told Campaign Asia-Pacific in Singapore that while a campaign being viewable is a necessity, viewability “doesn’t tell you if a campaign has been good”.

“If campaigns are optimised for viewability, that’s potentially a very dangerous thing, because you might favour over-intrusive ads, which would actually have a detrimental impact on your brand, just to get the viewability out of them,” he said.

“You might try and force more ads above the fold on the page just to get them in view, but actually a cluttered environment won’t be as effective.”

Drayton accepted that viewability standards such as those set by the IAB and MRC, while “pretty minimal”, have helped the digital advertising industry move forward by eliminating lesser or invalid traffic.

“For this year, particularly with the exposing of some of the practices that have gone on, it’s contingent upon the brands, publishers and industry players like ourselves, to make sure that we focus on the top of the market. Viewability plays a part in that hygiene,” he said.

But metrics around visual engagement and brand recognition, Drayton said, as well as new technology such as eye-tracking, are far more valuable when it comes to measuring a campaign’s success.

“The problem with the industry has been a laziness to revert to click-through rates,” he said. “Using viewability and click-through rates to us would be tantamount to failure, because they’re not giving you enough insight.”

Drayton said Inskin is more interested in quality of advertising, not quantity, but admitted that “not everyone would want to live by those rules”.

“The big aggregators of traffic are looking to monetise as many impressions as they can, so they’re not necessarily focused on the highest quality,” he suggested. “If you’re driven purely by performance metrics, you might be more interested in volume than quality.

“We’re already a lot better off than we were. But we’d like to raise the bar a lot higher.”

As for Inskin itself, Drayton said its Asia operations are looking to expand. With established offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia, the company has begun making inroads into Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

“So far the activity has been based from Singapore, we don’t have physical presence [in Malaysia, Indonesia or the Philippines] yet,” he explained. “But it’s going pretty well.”

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