Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) YouTube appears to be leading the charge toward improved ad viewability -- a key metric determining whether an ad was actually watched by a human being -- reporting 93 percent viewability in a new study by the search engine giant. But overall ad viewability rates are still lower in the United States, at 62 percent, than in other countries, a new Google study reveals.
YouTube's jump in viewability has translated into higher programmatic ad revenues, at least according to Google's own study of its ad platforms including Double Click. Programmatic buying on the ad-supported side of YouTube increased 55 percent month over month beginning in September 2015.
Reducing ad fraud from bots, filtering spam and making ads easier to view on a web page – all components of improved viewability – has gotten better year over year. YouTube's industry-topping level is 2 percent higher than it was in 2015. Outside YouTube, video ads on the web and on apps were viewable 66 percent of the time, up from 54 percent in 2015.
"While video viewability is increasing, there are significant variations by platform, market, and player size. To drive impact, advertisers should choose exchanges with high viewability and access to large player sizes," the report said.
Google's metrics were based on Media Ratings Council guidelines that rate an ad as viewable when more than 50 percent of the ad is in view for a minimum of two continuous seconds.
Ad platform vendors are continuing to add new technologies to circumvent at least one viewability issue: ad blocking by browser users. This week, Ooyala announced its own SSAI (server-side ad insertion) solution, integrated with Ooyala Live and its Ooyala Pulse ad-serving platform. The proprietary solution not only enables publishers to merge advertising into a single video stream, but also offers a degree of personalization tailored to the user based on various data points.
Ooyala's increased focus on proprietary technology, and Google's continuing interest in the quality and viewability of ads, reflects the immense importance tied to online advertising. For example, AT&T is upping its stake in the multiscreen advertising game, prompted by its acquisition of DirecTV. The service provider has beefed up its targeted television and video advertising, The Wall Street Journal reports, and its AdWorks division currently has annualized revenues of more than $1 billion.
The increased focus on advertising may not be surprising considering the investments AT&T (NYSE: T) has made over the past couple of years via its joint venture with The Chernin Group, Otter Media. Online video services such as Fullscreen and Crunchyroll are part of that JV. And in the fourth quarter, AT&T plans to launch three OTT services. AT&T also runs video ads on mobile apps via a partnership with Opera Mediaworks.
And AT&T is just one provider for whom more reliable programmatic advertising is of critical importance financially. As Verizon and T-Mobile continue touting their respective mobile-first offerings, and as media companies, studios and networks consider bringing their content directly to the consumer, ad-supported video continues to draw their attention.
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