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Programmatic and Video Lead Inventory Quality Gains in H2 2018

04/02 By Osbaldo Franco

Each day, IAS measures 1.1 trillion media quality metrics in real-time, spanning globally across devices, channels, environments, formats and purchase methods. Leveraging these capabilities, our twice-yearly Media Quality Report provides digital ad buyers and sellers the benchmarks and actionable insights they need to optimize their digital media strategy.

Findings from our H2 2018 Media Quality Report (MQR) showcase the growing influence of programmatic technology over inventory quality across the digital advertising ecosystem. The report also highlights a notable reduction in video ad fraud, which dropped below display ad fraud rates despite the typical focus by fraudsters on the higher CPMs associated with video.

Programmatic ad spending grows, ushering higher quality standards

Automation in digital ad sales offers media companies efficiency, scalability and sizeable business opportunities. According to eMarketer, US programmatic ad spending totaled $47.37 billion in 2018 and will maintain double-digit annual growth rates to approach $70 billion by 2020.

Following high-profile cases involving adjacency risk, sophisticated invalid traffic (SIVT) and outright fraudulent practices in recent years, programmatic ad buyers have called for stringent quality controls, including the ability to reconcile in-view rates, invalide traffic percentages and brand safety. Addressing these concerns, publishers and ad tech providers have moved to incorporate third-party verification solutions. The good news: positive results are beginning to emerge.

Programmatic display viewability across web environments rose faster than for publisher direct sales, driving overall display viewability rates up in the second half of 2018. Overall desktop and mobile web ads reached viewability rates of 62.4% and 58.3% in the second half of the year as well. Although publisher direct mobile app display viewability grew more quickly, reaching 60.4%–up from 55.8% in the first half of 2018, programmatic mobile app display remained ahead with 62.2% viewability.

Elsewhere, publisher direct inventory quality continues to improve and still maintains lower ad fraud and brand safety rates. But the gap with programmatic narrowed significantly in the second half of 2018. A continuation of this trend into 2019 is likely to bring parity between the two buy types on at least a few major metrics.

Video ad fraud rates dropped below display in H2

Between June and December 2018, the average US optimized-against-ad-fraud desktop video benchmarks improved from 2.3% to 2.1% between H1-H2 2018, outperforming the optimized-against-ad-fraud desktop display rate of 2.4% in H2. Mobile web video registered a 0.9% optimized-against-ad-fraud benchmark during the same period, matching mobile web display in the category.

Lower or equitable optimized-against-ad-fraud video benchmarks–compared to display–are notable given that fraudsters are typically attracted by the higher economic value associated with video impressions.

Ad fraud mitigation remains a sizeable challenge across the digital ecosystem, with the economic impact usually expressed in billions. Unsurprisingly, 36.8% of advertisers and 45.3% of agencies plan to prioritize ad fraud mitigation in 2019.

In the US, optimized-against-ad-fraud video benchmarks were at least 4x lower than the corresponding global non-optimized-against-fraud averages for video, highlighting the positive impact of ad fraud optimization on both advertising budgets and campaign performance.

Full H2 2018 Media Quality Report

Download the full report including viewability, time-in-view, ad fraud and brand safety benchmarks. And check back in a few months for our H1 2019 Media Quality Report update. In the meantime, let us know how we can help protect your digital strategy.

Download the Media Quality Report