Despite Brexit-induced market concerns, brand safety issues and a lack of trust and transparency, the UK’s digital media market currently favours optimism. UK digital ad spend is expected to total over £15 billion in 2019 and as a consequence of increased budget flowing into digital, and the emergence of new digital formats and channels, advertisers are demanding improved quality and greater impact across their entire media plan.
Our H2 2018 UK Media Quality Report (MQR) provides the latest benchmarks for viewability, time-in-view, brand safety, and ad fraud across digital environments and channels in the UK. Based on the analysis of hundreds of billions of UK impressions from campaigns running between July 1st and December 31st 2018, this report provides advertisers and publishers with a clear overview and benchmark for the quality of digital media in the UK market.
Key findings from the H2 2018 MQR report
Programmatic outperforms direct buys
Publishers and tech providers are catching up with the demand for higher standards for programmatic inventory from the buy side. Although impressions sourced via publisher direct channels traditionally offer higher viewability — and remain to do so in video — programmatic narrowed the viewability gap and even overtook in some environments. The H2 2018 MQR shows that mobile web impressions sourced via programmatic channels performed well in H2 2018, increasing 16.6% year-on-year. In addition, brand risk across mobile web display inventory dropped from 4.2% to 3.4% between H1 and H2 2018, improving 20.1% – the most progress was seen via programmatic inventory. For the first time, programmatic viewability rates for desktop and mobile web display surpassed those of direct buys. During 2018, slowly but surely programmatic has begun to make powerful advances.
Video drives increased time-in-view
There was minimal change to time-in-view rates compared to H1 2018 – time-in-view refers to the average duration that a viewable impression remained in-view on the device screen. Video campaign impressions surpassed both desktop and mobile web for the overall duration in-view. When looking at video impressions sourced via programmatic channels, these drove the longest time-in-view, at 14.7 seconds, providing the best opportunity to capture UK consumers’ attention. Desktop video campaigns remained the most engaging with overall time-in-view reaching 13.3 seconds.
Ad fraud impacts 1% of desktop display buys
From H1 to H2 2018, the volume of ad fraud detected in UK advertising increased across desktop and mobile web display by 40.3%, from 0.7% to 1%. This increase was seen mostly within advertising sourced via programmatic channels where greater automation and less human eyeballs are present. We often see it is more common for fraud to increase during the second half of the year, with fraudsters attracted to the lucrative holiday shopping period – with greater ad budget flowing in that can be siphoned off.
Brand risk continues to fall, but risk in video increases
Brand risk in the UK reduced by 28.9% over the second half of 2018 for desktop display – a two year low of 3.2%, down from 4.5% in H1. However, video impressions experienced a slight rise, up 12.5%, which means 1 in every 10 UK video impressions was flagged for appearing next to content that could pose a risk to a brand’s image or reputation. Whilst, brand risk across mobile web display inventory improved 20.1% since H1 2018, mobile video inventory rose 27.7% to average 11.6% overall, driven primarily by increased risk around the alcohol category on programmatic inventory.
Summarising H2 2018
Overall, data for H2 2018 clearly shows a positive story for programmatic, a healthy sign for automated media which has traditionally been masked with negative headlines. This is likely due to an increase in publishers utilising programmatic to sell valuable inventory, via private marketplaces (PMPs). Despite fraud increasing slightly for programmatic inventory, this was likely due to the holiday season, where an increased number of fraudsters are at play.
Over the next year, trust in the technology is likely to grow and we may see an increase in digital spend allocated towards programmatic. As programmatic and automated media become the de facto way of trading ad impressions, particularly for publishers, we expect demand for higher standards of programmatic inventory to grow. We’re looking forward to reviewing the evolution of programmatic media quality next year.
Click here to download the UK H2 2018 MQR report and gain a better understanding of digital media benchmarks that highlight key areas of quality and help prevent loss of value.