Thankfully, The Click May Take a Back Seat

This guest blog submission is from Scott Roulet, president of BBN Networks.

“Be careful what you ask for because it may come true”. The over-used cliché captures the sentiment we face as the digital advertising industry begins to de-emphasize the click and emphasize the less defined ad engagement.

For years, CTR has been source of cynicism around media watering holes as well as the more high intellect industry conferences. Outside of media sellers looking at the landing pages of prospective advertisers or marketers trying to gain insight on a competitor’s campaign, who really clicks on these ads? In fact most of us have met few, if any, web users compelled to intentionally press the mouse while hovering over a clever message embedded inside a 300×600 ad unit. Adding to the CTR mystery, is the elusive bot with its daily havoc that distorts reality and threatens the sanity of ad ops teams.

Relief may be just around the corner because we will soon be redirecting our attention to ad impressions that are actually within view of the user. In theory, this is sensible measurement. Unless an ad is actually seen, it’s merely a self-rewarding creative work of art. Accountability for ensuring the ad can be seen is imperative for the integrity of the this medium. Many publishers, especially in B2B, filled their web pages to look like a NASCAR but you don’t see sponsor logos on the bottom of the cars and expectations for digital media should be no different.

Companies like Moat have developed amazing tools that measure a user’s engagement with website ads. Our company has implemented Moat to provide inventory and campaign analysis but there are alternative tools including DoubleVerify and ComScore with similar functionality. While the industry has mandated a certification process for technologies that assess viewability, there is not a common methodology standard to minimize the reporting discrepancies between systems. Similar to the variances between the ad servers for publishers and advertisers, viewability statistics vary. These companies are dedicating some of the brightest minds in ad technology to enhance the accuracy and compatibility so it’s only a matter of time before those gaps are closed.

Publishers must develop page designs that raise the in-view rates for their inventory while considering a strategy that fairly distributes the inventory allocation across advertisers with various requirements. Major buying agencies and trading desks have already begun the adoption so publishers will soon be challenged with the dilemma over which advertisers are assigned placements with the greatest in-view rate. Historically, “premium” positioning came at premium rates, however, that approach is an unlikely solution since the downward CPM pressure is driven by the same buying groups demanding higher in-view rates.

The momentum for viewablity is a logical progression for a medium in constant search of improved measurements for intelligent validation with greater accountability. The speed bumps along the way are inevitable but standardization will come and premium publishers will adapt with web properties that maximize engagement with the brands.

Ready to just go back to worrying about CTR? Be careful what you ask for.

Scott Roulet is a digital media entrepreneur, and publishing veteran. He is a Co-Founder and President of BBN Networks, a B2B digital marketing company connecting marketers with business decision makers. For more information, please visit:


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