H2 2017 Media Quality Report: Collective action drives change

03/27 By Matt Engstrom

Every month IAS analyzes hundreds of billions of impressions globally. These impressions span across every channel and platform from desktop and mobile to video and walled garden social platforms. We evaluate these impressions for viewability, potential ad fraud, and brand safety. Our bi-annual media quality report aggregates those findings to present the clearest possible picture of media quality worldwide.

The Media Quality Report from H2 2017, based on this analysis of over 500 billion impressions, is designed to empower stakeholders across the digital advertising landscape to invest their marketing dollars with greater confidence by illustrating the state of online inventory today.

The first half of 2017 saw the industry bring increased effort to addressing media quality concerns. These efforts were essential for brands, agencies, publishers, and tech platforms, for whom media quality and transparency are critical to ensuring that digital campaigns are driving optimal value in viewable, safe and fraud-free environments. The H2 2017 Media Quality Report reflects the first outcomes of these efforts to improve quality and mitigate waste.

The latest version of the media quality report captures the impact changes that roiled digital marketing in 2017. The results point to challenges and opportunities for improvement, but the overarching story is one of cooperation. The report shows both the impact of collective action the areas of opportunity for industry-wide collaboration.

The push for viewability

Desktop viewability increased or remained stable in the United States and across global markets since the first half of 2017. The report breaks down viewability across publisher direct buys as well as programmatic transactions and provides benchmarks for each. The full picture of viewability is optimistic with modest but measurable improvements across the market. For example, U.S. desktop video viewability has improved nearly 13% from H1 to H2 2017.

These changes are reflective of an industry-wide push lead by marquee advertisers like Proctor and Gamble and Unilever has produced results. Over the course of 2017, these and other key industry stakeholders made viewability a major priority through strong public statements, but those statements were backed up by dollars with a number of major advertisers realigning advertising budgets to prioritize viewable inventory.

In-app demands collective action

Measuring viewability in mobile in-app environments is a relatively new challenge for marketers and one that needs to be met with a strong industry-wide response. The report shows modest declines in overall in-app viewability during the second half of 2017, even as viewability in desktop environments held steady or made gains. As audiences shift their attention to mobile platforms, improving in-app viewability will become an increasingly urgent challenge.

Fortunately, here too there are promising signs of collective action. We anticipate that the upcoming adoption of mobile in-app SDK solutions will help to standardize viewability measurement. Once mobile in-app measurement is standardized industry-wide publishers and app developers will be subject to the same type of performance pressure that has helped to steadily drive higher viewability across desktop. As with desktop viewability, this adoption and subsequent shifts toward more viewable inventory are likely to be driven by major advertisers who have collectively signaled their desire for a cleaner digital supply chain free of low and negative value inventory.

Reducing risk

A volatile political climate and an increasingly chaotic news cycle of thrown new focus onto brand safety risk across all platforms. This increased scrutiny has many marketers feeling renewed heat. Marketers have long endeavored to keep their ads from running on sensitive, offensive, or potentially brand-damaging content that could dilute or disrupt their message through adjacency. That challenge is now compounded by growing pressure on brands to avoid supporting media outlets and content that is seen as politically controversial, a field of content that is rapidly widening.

Our report finds brand safety risk categories to be in flux, driven by global news and media trends. While risk associated with certain types of salacious content has remained moderate there have been modest increases in content tied to current political discussions including hate speech and violence. Navigating these risk categories requires a robust and responsive scoring system as well as the combined collective industry-wide efforts to identify and avoid the type of content that, in addition to adding no meaningful value to a campaign, could actually have a deleterious impact on a brand.

To learn more, and to see all the H2 2017 Media Quality benchmarks download the report.