The Brand Safety Partnership: Why Quality Placements are a Shared Responsibility

In March 2017, brand safety concerns stemming from news that many advertisers inadvertently ran YouTube ads adjacent to videos promoting terrorist content led many top brands to pull placements running on YouTube and other Google properties. This sparked a broader conversation within the industry about the importance of brand safety, third-party validation, and inventory quality assurance.

When engaging in the conversations around brand safety, both advertisers and agencies have a responsibility to ensure campaigns run in an effective and brand safe environment. Agencies owe their clients a degree of transparency in their practices to earn and maintain client trust. Practices such as engaging third-party validation, proactive blacklisting, and utilizing pre-bid filters in programmatic environments ensure agencies are operating with their client’s best interest in mind.

Keeping our share of this responsibility in mind, Lin Digital engages in practices that promote inventory quality across its activation points to ensure brand safety is a basic building block of our infrastructure. We wrap MOAT on every impression we run and use its invalid traffic (IVT) and viewability data to build proactive blacklists of sites with low-performing inventory. These blacklists are applied to every campaign we activate. We also import MOAT’s IVT data into our proprietary order management system and deduct those impressions from the billable units of campaigns billing off our internal ad server reporting. We continually update our blacklists to include known sites promoting adult content or terrorism/illegal activities and apply pre-bid brand safety filters on these categories to our programmatic activations.

For their part of the conversation, advertisers must understand that higher degrees of brand safety certainty carry their own costs that should be considered in part as a cost of doing business. By selecting reputable partners with transparent practices such as those outlined above, brands should expect their campaigns to be activated with brand safety and inventory quality as a priority. Even with multiple layers of proactive protection, however, there is still the possibility of a small volume of brand safety violations trickling through.

When considered in the context of the volume of an entire campaign, these impressions comprise a negligible amount of the total delivery, but depending on the nature of the violation, it is understandable that brands may prefer near 100 percent brand safety certainty. Advertisers must clearly outline their expectations and define the acceptable margin of error in the planning stages of a campaign to ensure all appropriate tech partners and activation strategies are included from the beginning. Achieving higher levels of certainty is not without its costs, and advertisers seeking this level must be willing to accept the price of added insurance. Any third-party vendor providing a blocking solution or data overlay will charge for its services, and these fees must be considered in the overall campaign budget. Outlining expectations up front can assist with managing these costs on both the client and activation points by eliminating waste from lack of communication.

Consider someone in market for a new car. This person may choose a Camry and, rest assured, make a safe, reliable purchase that meets the legally required safety standards and comfortably transports them from point A to point B. Alternatively, the person may choose to purchase a Lexus and receive higher level features that improve their experience with the car. However, they would not expect to purchase the Lexus for the same price as the Camry; the additional features necessitate more investment in the production of the car and lead to a higher price point. By expecting or demanding to buy the Lexus at the cost of the Camry, the purchaser would most likely receive a Lexus that was obtained unethically either because it was acquired by the seller through disreputable means or because it was actually a Camry and only presented as a Lexus. Showing an unwillingness to pay a fair price for the product is also likely to disrupt the relationship between the buyer and the seller.

To best serve clients who are looking for the Lexus of brand safety products, Lin Digital is also able to layer on additional features to achieve as close to 100 percent brand safety as possible. We have relationships with several viewability and verification partners that allow us to employ blocking tags along with our standard pre-bid filters. Our infrastructure also offers the opportunity to negatively target specific keywords, allowing for more agility in avoiding specifc themes or news stories. Finally, we are able to run ads to whitelists of sites provided either by our clients or generated from historical data within our infrastructure. For the highest degree of certainty of brand safety, we recommend layering multiple filtering strategies to create the most comprehensive plan possible.

If all parties engaged in a digital advertising transaction are committed to transparent practices and willing to accept higher degrees of brand safety certainty with its own associated costs, both advertisers and agencies will be able to create effective solutions to address client concerns. A shared commitment to maintaining brand safety helps represent the best interests of all parties in one cohesive execution.

Choosing Digital Currencies That Matter: 3 Takeaways from MOAT Attention.io 2016

Lin Digital joined digital advertising industry leaders in September at an annual conference hosted by MOAT, our primary viewability and verification partner. The conference, titled Attention.io, focused on challenges around time, attention, and engagement in digital advertising strategy and practices.

One of the most prevalent themes of MOAT Attention.io was currency. As the advertising industry continues to grow in its sophistication and the objectives of digital advertising campaigns seek increasingly more complex KPIs, advertisers and publishers alike are considering forms of digital currency that ensure both campaign success and profitability.

When considering the barriers to developing a common currency, lack of standardization in defining and measuring KPIs emerged as one of the biggest challenges for the industry. If every ad tech company is measuring KPIs differently and pursuing different definitions, it becomes difficult to agree on whose data is correct. In order to develop a common currency that drives the industry forward, all players must agree on the outline of that currency.

Our media buying team compiled three key takeaways around attention metrics in digital advertising campaigns from the conference:

1. Innovation through Currency
Not only does digital media need to continually evolve to remain relevant, it must also impact and drive the culture in which they are bred. In the media world, we often focus on innovations themselves rather than their impacts on the industry or consumer. For example, media companies fall into the trap of assuming data is significant simply because it is data. By objectively evaluating the outcome of innovation, industry leaders can become more mindful of how the currencies we have chosen are affecting user opinions of the industry and driving ROI.

2. Shifts in Media Consumption
The largest challenge we observed at the conference is addressing viewability and fraud as an industry to win back advertiser trust and earn more of brands’ advertising dollars. Shifts in media consumption trends have necessitated a transition from traditional practices in how we handle creative production and media strategy. Our content must have value in order to keep the consumer engaged. Ultimately, media success is found by focusing on the audience itself, rather than the platform. A client’s brand is its differentiator and its audience’s time and attention is its currency.

3. Refined Branding and Storytelling
Digital storytelling today has evolved from a “nice-to-have” element into a necessity. Like people, brands must embrace and own their identities rather than trying to satisfy all trends and losing what makes them unique in that process.

At Lin Digital, our team strives to make these takeaways actionable by applying our expertise from both the supply and demand sides of the industry to attribute value to new currencies. We have conducted “cost per time” research to use time as a way of optimizing against engagement metrics. We also use our data science team to find the optimal exposure time per creative to maximize the campaign’s conversion rate.

Another strategy for reaching the common currency is understanding the newest and youngest members of your consumers — Generation Z.  While this generation is fully integrated with digital media, they are often highly skeptical of digital marketing. Many are turning to ad blockers in order to tune out the less relevant ads that hinder their user experiences. We need to respond to these patterns by ensuring our media strategy offers value for both consumers and advertisers.

As we seek to increase the unique value we offer through our expertise, technology relationships, and targeting capabilities, we will ensure we are innovating to drive ROI for our clients rather than for the sake of innovation.

What RankBrain Means for Your SEO Content Strategy

By: Our SEO Team

It’s time to think differently about Google algorithm updates. RankBrain, Google’s latest major algorithm update, goes above and beyond other aspects of the algorithm by connecting unusual or never-before-seen queries to relevant results. In other words, it’s capable of making accurate guesses about what search engine users want, regardless of how they ask for it.

Unless you’re a techie who likes reading about Google algorithms for fun, understanding how these technical updates fit into your creative process can be challenging. The truth is that neither your website nor your content can be optimized for RankBrain, at least not in the way we traditionally think of optimization. But if RankBrain is actively impacting all search results, it still leads us to the question: how can you consider RankBrain’s authority when creating content? Here’s a comprehensive breakdown to help you incorporate RankBrain’s fundamentals into your efforts to drive organic traffic.

Think more human, less robot
It’s easy to stick to a list of SEO tactics when you think of the algorithm as a machine, but RankBrain’s use of artificial intelligence expects far more from your strategy. The interesting thing about RankBrain is that it encourages content creators to focus more on empathy, imagined queries, and relevance rather than known queries and exact match keywords. Keywords haven’t become any less important, but RankBrain provides some wiggle room in your content strategy by giving the upper hand to content that’s most relevant to what the user wants to find, regardless of how unique or unusual the query.

An estimated 15-20 percent of all search queries have never been seen before by Google, highlighting the importance of anticipating new and niche queries that may not even exist yet.

Here’s an example to illustrate RankBrain’s ability to sort through the internet and make connections between user intention and published content. Let’s say someone creates the following never-before-seen query: “work of most famous decorator on TV.” And let’s say you’ve created a piece of content about the work and successes of Interior Designer Candice Olson, perhaps titled “My Favorite Rooms from HGTV’s Interior Designer Candice Olsen.” Although the query is not an exact match to your content, RankBrain’s ability to connect query (work, famous, decorator, TV) to result (rooms, Candice Olsen, interior designer, HGTV) may lead your content to appear in the user’s SERP.

Ask questions, anticipate queries
The key to stepping up your RankBrain game is to ask important questions prior to starting the content creation process: if you were a potential user, consumer, or customer, what information would you want to know? What questions would you ask related to your industry? How, as a content creator, could you anticipate and answer a question that has yet to be asked? Are there any alternate words within your industry’s terminology that you could incorporate to put your content at an advantage for unique, alternative queries?

Use these questions as a guide for brainstorming and incorporate the following action steps into your strategy.

1. Create content for your audience, not for RankBrain. Consider your audience’s demographic and provide solutions for possible problems.

 

2. Use your imagination. Put yourself in the shoes of your potential readers and ask yourself what you might want to know about a particular subject.

 

3. Look for synonyms within your industry and find clever ways to incorporate them into your content. For example, you might be able to find a playful way to incorporate the word “decorator” into a blog that also uses the term “interior designer.”

 

4. Be specific and add details. The more detailed, specific, and tailored your content, the more likely your content will appear in SERPs for unique queries.

 

5. Research Google Trends and use the results to both imagine hypothetical search queries and formulate topic ideas based on previous queries.

Looking ahead
RankBrain is just another step in Google’s algorithm becoming increasingly human. In the long run, these people-oriented updates will impact content strategies by favoring content created with people’s needs and desires in mind. If you want long-term success as a content creator, it’s time to start thinking more human, less robot.

Programmatic – 5 Trends Shaping the Future

Nearly 10 years after its introduction, programmatic has become a leading force in media and marketing. But as programmatic adoption becomes more widespread, demands for customization, programmatic creative, and sharper data insights are forcing the technology to further evolve.

Lin Digital originally utilized programmatic to leverage inventory and run a full-fledged trading desk, but the changing scope of programmatic created new opportunities. Among them, our Data Science team programmatically models data to allow full-funnel attribution that illustrates the customer journey – from initial impressions to conversions with trait-level granularity with seamless activation.

The conversation around programmatic is ever-changing. Lin Digital’s VP of Digital Media Activation, Marika Roque, identifies five trends driving programmatic in 2016 and their implications for the future of media.

1. Data-Driven Buying Will Push Programmatic Deeper into TV
The data-driven capabilities and efficiencies that programmatic advertising brought to digital have not gone unnoticed by other advertising mediums, especially television. With the ability to buy and sell TV ads in real-time, messaging can be more relevant and targeted than ever. Programmatic TV enables brands to reach consumers who are interested in their company and, in turn, efficiently stretch their budget. Programmatic is just starting to scratch the surface of the $300 billion linear TV industry.

2. Mastering the Mobile Consumer
For a long time, bringing programmatic to mobile seemed like fantasy. It’s only this year that consumers have started to spend more time on mobile than on desktop. The modern consumer buying journey spans desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, smartwatches and soon, many other connected devices. The opportunity for marketers to engage with consumers in the moment and across all of these mediums, as well as in-app and mobile Web, can be huge. Plus, when it comes to the cross-device attribution marketers want, mobile programmatic is a step forward.

3. Dynamic Creative Warrants Your Attention
The use of dynamic ad content is expected to grow significantly in 2016. The growth is fueled by consumers’ demand for ads that are more relevant, and advertisers are responding by implementing cross-device audience targeting strategies, instituting better data management practices, and buying more ads programmatically. With the amount of data and new technology, there should be thousands of creative variations that are data-driven to create personalized experiences, personalized to the moment and device. For marketers who aren’t considering dynamic creative, it is time to re-think the one-size-fits-all concept.

4. Offline & Online Measurement Will Unite
One of the elusive holy grails of online marketing has been the ability to join measurements of online behavior with what happens outside of the digital world, in a physical world of brick-and-mortar stores that house brands. In 2016, this type of measurement will finally become a reality as credit and loyalty card companies will start to use their store and product-level transactional data as a measurement mechanic for online advertising. Companies like Datalogix and Cardlytics are already facilitating these measurements.

5. Cross-Device Attribution is a Must
Cross-device attribution represents a paradigm shift among marketers. We’re not simply tracking the consumer journey to decide who ‘gets credit’ for conversions – we are learning from every touch how to optimize messages across every digital channel, as well as providing the best attribution models. This holistic approach completely transforms the way marketers are able to recruit and retain their most valuable customers. At Lin Digital, we not only offer buying capabilities in every channel, we also provide the ability to understand how branding and direct-response campaigns work together, on every device, using our proprietary data.

The increased data and marketing opportunities within programmatic means that every company should be on the lookout for new trends, and understand where their business could benefit from programmatic. Lin Digital continually develops new insights into media technology, and provides a consultative approach to complex marketing technology adoption and implementation. Across devices, in virtual and offline worlds, through the entire content journey – programmatic is making strides to change the way media operates at every level.

Community Connects: Our Story

Our corporation’s national giving program began as an anonymous submission on a scrap of paper slipped into an employee suggestion box called, “The Better Box.” The idea is simple — if you see a need, address it.

One email gauging employee interest led to a packed room for a kickoff meeting, then the creation of the first employee volunteer program in Austin. Seven months later, the program rebranded and expanded into offices in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and continues to grow today.

Leadership expert Simon Sinek examines the principle behind every successful business. A simple but powerful thought model, The Golden Circle challenges organizations to examine the emotional core of what makes employees and clients believe in a company. The question isn’t “How?” or “What?” but rather, “Why?” Most organizations understand what they do — what they sell or offer. Some organizations understand how they do it — their unique value proposition. Yet, few organizations understand why they do it.

By leading with a purpose, cause, or belief, employee volunteer programs can increase employee engagement, boost morale and company culture, heighten a sense of purpose by developing brand ambassadors, improve brand presence and reach while giving back, and build stronger connections with each other and our communities.

Our steering committee began with this first step: crafting a purpose statement to guide the projects, events, and efforts our peers brought to the table. 

Purpose Statement: Community Connects engages our employees by building connections with each other and our communities to give back and enrich the lives of those around us.
Our employees determine their individual level of participation. We keep the spectrum of volunteer opportunities broad with the hopes that our efforts are all-inclusive and that anyone can contribute at least once. We organize in-office initiatives including a donation center, drives (food, toys, shoes, etc.), events hosting local organizations, as well as external efforts including blood drives, youth development, manual work outdoors, literacy projects, and more. Family, friends, and pets are welcome to join. Employees have an open invitation to communicate and execute their ideas at any point – as a result, we’ve had a full roster of service opportunities that are deeply personal and allow us to share more than just our work culture.

We’ve identified three elements in the success of the program:

1. We strive to embody our values every step of the way
When we ordered volunteer t-shirts, we selected a vendor who agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds to a cause organization of our choice. We also chose a brand that creates eco-conscious shirts made in the US in a paper-free, solar-powered, zero-waste, and WRAP-certified warehouse. We avoid using promotional visuals that could potentially portray a subject in a negative light, and pay close attention to thoughtful word choices and intentional rhetoric. We seek out hands-on, direct-impact opportunities to avoid throwing dollars at systemic issues. By being conscious and deliberate, we hope we are living out our values as a program.

2. The program is entirely employee-driven and fueled by employee participation
As momentum kicked in, we’ve seen the results in the growth of our company culture. The range of participation, the positive words of encouragement, the willingness of employees to go above and beyond in supporting the efforts reflect the team-oriented culture growing within the company. We’re constantly appreciative of the opportunities to do good in the community and inspired to work with a close-knit group of good people who help make the office a happier place to work.

3. The company values and supports volunteer efforts
In our first volunteer effort, 55 participants came out to help collect 150 bags of trash in a large-scale cleanup to tackle litter around Lady Bird Lake via canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddleboards. We’ve also seen success in the data. Posts related to Community Connects tend to be our top-performing content across social media, with the highest engagement and reach results. The most popular photo album on Facebook in the entire history of our company is our volunteer program album. Once we proved the need and commitment, the company responded by granting us the resources and enabling flexibility in executing our vision.

When we ventured outside our comfort zones into local communities, we became more aware of many issues that we couldn’t un-see. We were reminded how interconnected we are. We became more inspired. That level of passion and engagement translates back into the workplace. And, it’s even stronger when it returns with a shared spirit among our colleagues.

We’ve made a lot of progress in the past 10 months, and are thinking big when it comes to looking toward the future of our organization. We plan on creating a dedicated Community Connects Day for all four offices across the country to volunteer on the same day for one national organization. We also look forward to initiatives around Volunteer Time Off (VTO), a community ambassador program, education outreach efforts, pro bono work, and more.

We’re all about connected-screen activations, across every platform and channel. Yet, at the end of the 9-6 workday, it’s about human connection. Stories. Purpose. The collective idea of a group of people working toward a larger vision. Once you have that level of committed buy-in from the people around you, the rest will emerge organically.

– Community Connects


Links:

FM Connects 2016 Wrap Up
FM Connects News & Updates
Volinteers 2015 Recap

2016 FM Connects Photo Album
2015 Volinteers Photo Album

Responsive Design: Going Mobile, and Beyond

By: Our SEO Team

“Mobilegeddon.” In February 2015, Google announced responsive design would become a major factor in website rankings, causing a frenzy as brands scrambled to adapt to new mobile guidelines. Now that more than 50 percent of all online traffic comes from mobile devices, these updates promise more benefits than ever.

Now, to further underscore mobile’s importance, Google announced additional algorithm updates with further elaborated responsive guidelines. This may not cause another Mobilegeddon, but it’s clear mobile responsive design is the new standard for brands’ online presence, and guidelines will continue to evolve. So how can businesses keep their site up-to-date? And how can you create a mobile-first strategy that makes these changes work in your favor?

The Open Secret: The Internet Is Now Mobile
More than 50 percent of users now access the internet from mobile devices. The value and voice of a brand must clearly resonate across all channel types if it wants to remain relevant. But beyond adapting to the size of the screen, brands need to adapt to mobile users’ behavior and lifestyle. Mobile users search for products and services while waiting in line at the grocery store, while running errands, at work, or in their downtime. Responsive design allows businesses to reach mobile users at the point of decision. For example, a car dealership can reach potential customers whose vehicles may need oil changes and provide them with coupons, promotions, and other incentives to capture a conversion. Brands need to anticipate a range of user behaviors and tailor their presence to engage with them at the most crucial moments.

Users Are Going Beyond Mobile, And So Should We
If brands want to send their message to consumers, they’ll need to reach them not just on mobile, but on all devices. The internet is on TVs, tablets, in cars, refrigerators, and more. “The Internet of Things,” which refers to the developing trend of internet access moving into everything from fitness trackers to your keychain to virtual reality, will continue to grow. Businesses that pay attention to hardware innovation and its effect on user behavior have an opportunity to get ahead in customer access and service, whereas those who haven’t adapted to these updates will lag behind.

Responsive design is essential for user retention and directly impacts conversions, users’ time on site, and overall engagement. Aligning online practices with user behavior allows brands to deliver engaging content to their audiences and helps strategically deploy initiatives that are essential to their business.

What Can You Do Right Now?
Implement every technical adaptation you possibly can, and make sure you’re paying attention to arising mobile behavioral trends so you’re not missing opportunities to engage your audiences. Ask your SEO specialist about canonical location data, store location pages, consumer portal management, reviews, and self-localization. And don’t forget to consider yourself as a mobile user. Ask yourself, how am I interacting with brands via the internet? What works and what doesn’t work? What do I wish I could do instead? To provide solutions to these questions, look for a partner to help move your brand into the future. Contact us at seo@lin-digital.com for an SEO consultation today.

Five SEO Essentials for Your Business Website

By: Our SEO Team

Are You Giving Up Valuable Organic Traffic?
Anyone who does business online should be paying attention to trends in SEO. Neglecting SEO means you’re forfeiting free traffic and losing web presence to your competitors. We’ve compiled a list of the most essential SEO strategies for improving your website’s organic traffic and overall visibility.

Quality Content
Quality should be your top priority when creating new content for your site. Google’s algorithm continues to grow increasingly intelligent, and long gone are the days when keyword-stuffed gibberish could fool the search engines. Instead of writing to Google, write to your audience by focusing on topical rather than exact match keywords and providing useful information to your users. Exact match is certainly useful but should never be unnaturally forced into the copy. Google will evaluate your site for natural, quality content and award ranking accordingly.

On-Page Optimization
On-page optimization consists of a number of different strategies that can improve SEO and the click-through rate of your website. One of the most crucial strategies is to assure that your top landing pages — and others, if possible — are updated with keyword-enriched title tags and meta descriptions. These tags and descriptions allow search engines to index your website according to relevance. Other essential strategies include hyperlinking to relevant internal pages, avoiding duplicate content from page to page, and providing an easy-to-navigate layout that allows conversions to take place without fuss.

Local Search Information
Search engine results play a big role in local buying decisions. When users search for geographically specific terms – for example, “Oil change Austin Texas” or “Farm to table dining New York City” – search engines compare the query keywords against a database of local listings. To optimize for local search, be sure your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) information is consistent on your site, on online Yellow Pages, and across all search engine business listings. Additional local optimization can be implemented via Schema markup. Stay tuned for more information on Schema in upcoming articles.

Website Architecture Catered to the User Experience
Have you ever been annoyed by a website that’s hindered by poor design and clumsy navigation? Poor user experience discourages potential customers and makes a negative impact on conversions. Conversely, a clear page-flow and URL structure help search engines index your website. Search engines find results clearly on a neatly-designed path as opposed to a convoluted labyrinth. Logical and efficient website architecture reflects a navigable and useful website, and is rewarded with favorable rankings in search results.

Responsive Web Design That’s Mobile Friendly
In response to the growing number of mobile internet users, Google recently announced significant changes to its search algorithm: mobile-friendly sites will rank favorably compared to their non-mobile-friendly competitors. Because mobile traffic now accounts for over half of total internet traffic, you’ll want to make sure your site is optimized accordingly. Responsive design ensures an optimal viewing and interaction experience on every device. So, how can you ensure your site is mobile friendly? Google has supplied a mobile-friendly test tool which you can use to evaluate your site. You may find you need to update your content management system (CMS) or theme to a mobile-friendly version.

Is your website missing any of the essentials we’ve listed here? Our SEO specialists can help you gain a deeper understanding of your website’s organic performance. A strong SEO strategy lays a foundation for your online business and can even help your pay-per-click and display campaigns perform better. Contact us at seo@lin-digital.com for an SEO evaluation today.

The New Multi-Layer KPI / The Anti Yin & Yang

By: Marika Roque

How do you educate clients about conflicting KPIs without causing more confusion? Marika Roque, VP of Media Activation of Nexstar Digital – makes the case for forming truly transparent partnerships.

Clients are clamoring to tap into all the new viewability and engagement data that has become available. Viewability requests are coming in without any Non-Human Traffic verbiage, simple CTR KPIs are being requested for complex digital campaigns, and CTR and completion rates are requested as dual video KPIs despite competing against one another. While we wrap our minds and activations around all of this data, we must partner closer with our clients to focus on strategic KPIs that speak to actual campaign goals and cater to the unique consumer touchpoints within their journey through the marketing funnel.

Don’t forget about NHT.
Viewability has become the industry buzzword since Group M led the Verification and Viewability charge alongside other industry leaders such as IAS, DV, and MOAT. Not only did Group M bring viewability analytics to their clients, they went above and beyond the MRC and redefined it — doubling the defined standard. The MRC defines viewability as 50 percent of pixels in-view for at least one second for display and two seconds for video. Group M requires 100 percent of those pixels to be on screen for the viewability to be billable.

While this move is worth admiring, most of viewability-based conversations are not accompanied by the NHT measurement requirement. WHY? Lin Digital is poised to lead the NHT charge that everyone seems so scared to talk about.

How do you bring up NHT without having clients question past campaigns? Agencies and partners alike are having the same ethical conversation in their minds, but let’s use data to look forward rather than backwards. Let’s add NHT as a primary KPI in a properly priced campaign. Lin Digital wraps MOAT on 100 percent of the impressions that we run through our company. Viewability is a huge driver of consumer demand but NHT and publisher accountability sit at that same level, if not above it. Why are clients quantifying and slapping viewability KPIs on campaigns without realizing that the data could be fraudulent? Why are clients getting upset about a lower CTR when the NHT is 0 and the viewability is through the roof? We need to continue to educate our clients while we strengthen our partnerships with them. We need to help advertisers understand that instead of putting a premium on their campaigns, many of these viewability-centric KPIs are cannibalizing them.

Level the playing field.
Although the MRC has defined viewability, the methodology of getting there hasn’t been standardized. Measurement vendors need to match, but until those methodologies align, clients should wrap the same verification and viewability analytics technology across their full plans. Eliminate the incongruent methodologies to ensure apples to apples comparisons are being made across publishers.

Benchmarks should also be laid out prior to the launch of the campaign. If CTR is the primary KPI, all publishers on the campaign should be held accountable to NHT thresholds measured by the same vendor, or publishers that are either unethical or uneducated could knowingly or unknowingly generate fraudulent data.

Media is taking the hit but what about creative?
Media is taking the hit while we negotiate and standardize new pricing models for the new viewability-centric data. Creative is reactively providing additional interactivity within the ads themselves but let’s move to a more proactive model. Clients should be thinking about their sweet spots in terms of creative length, benchmark engagement, and time spent with the brand/creative. Does the perfect consumer watch your video for 10 seconds? If so, your video should be 10 seconds long. Eliminate the waste and stop there.

Viewability and verification companies are also able to provide creative feedback through analytics such as in-view time, hovers, scroll rate, and (B)usiness (I)ntelligence heat maps for visual feedback pinpointing exactly where those interactions, engagements, and hovers are taking place. If a client has a CTR KPI without a CTA within the creative, the media is being set up to fail. Lin Digital has the ability to provide creative heat maps for all campaigns that are running our MOAT analytics. We can then A/B test creative as well as provide additional creative insight/feedback that goes beyond the standard KPI.

Video – An amazing beast.
Viewability is the most difficult to garner in the video space. Bringing in factors such as sound on, autoplay, and player size can overwhelm the client. Keep it simple by stressing that viewability is the proxy for engagement and if engagement is the goal, time spent is key. For video campaign KPIs, CTR and Completion cannibalize each other. Agencies are paying six figures for production of video assets yet the KPI is the click, which will lead the target consumer away from the branded content. If viewability is any part of the conversation, then the video KPI should be completion. Let’s maximize the time spent with the consumer while they are in the comfort of their own digital content. If CTR is the primary KPI, then viewability percentage should not be such a large part of the conversation. NHT should make its way into the conversation, to ensure that fraud is in check while we hit the client’s goal CTR. If that is achieved, completion and viewability become much less important.

Viewability is a stepping stone towards actual trust and digital accountability, both of which factor into ROI. Viewability and sourcing of traffic accountability are musts, so NHT must sneak into the conversations as we pull the band-aid off and educate our clients. KPIs must also accompany the conversation as we continue to get more sophisticated in our planning, including first party data, etc.  We must also move our KPIs forward, away from just the simple click. Couple that sophistication with sophisticated engagement-based verification KPIs. The click does not take into account any brand lift implications nor does it provide data as to the interaction with your logo in the ad. Let’s not retroactively respond to our clients but instead bring these truths forward to them. Let’s model out how much time people are spending with the brands inside our ad units and then analyze if those are the cookies who are converting later on in the funnel. By educating our clients and prioritizing KPIs that speak to the true goals of the campaign, we can strengthen our partnerships and demonstrate true ROI.