Exhaustive interviews we've conducted with IAB publisher members
show that a quarter to half of their revenue operations groups'
time is spent addressing the basic mechanics of digital
advertising's supply chain -- from inventory to reconciliation to
invalid traffic (IVT) formulas to everything in-between. The source
of this time-suck is agencies' inconsistent practices, not to
mention the lack of dedicated expertise in their account teams.
Agencies are simply resisting a move toward industry consensus;
each agency -- and in some cases different account groups in the
same agency -- follows very different practices for transacting
when it comes to accounting for viewability or invalid traffic must
be taken into account. As a result, every negotiation is an
expensive one-off, and time that otherwise could be spent
generating world-class user experiences is spent on valueless,
The problem goes deeper. Even if a publisher accepts numbers
from an agency, the method the publisher has to use to project
inventory, optimize campaigns, and reconcile billing can differ
from campaign to campaign and brand to brand -- even when it's from
the exact same buying teams.
It's not that there is one bad actor. It's simply that the
agencies (and account teams within the agencies) aren't taking the
time to consider the time and resource drain caused by their lack
of coordination and the lack of common business rules. This
inefficiency impinges on better uses of time and money, which would
benefit the very brands they serve.
To be sure, these business rules do exist. The Media Rating
Council (MRC), the decades-old, Congressionally-chartered,
independent, cross-industry supervisory body charged by our
associations with overseeing the development and implementation of
viewability standards, has done a remarkable job writing the rules
of the road for modern media measurement. The problem is those
rules are being honored by agencies only in the breach. This is
unacceptable. It's business malpractice. If publishers, out of
sheer neglect, required a business activity that forced brand teams
to spend 25% to 50% of their time on valueless mechanics, there
would be an uproar -- and outright revolt.
Now is the time to take a more aggressive, consistent, and
substantive stand on the issue. IAB has been and intends to remain
a good partner with the 4As, the ANA, and the MRC in Making
Measurement Make Sense. But good partnership demands transparency
Effective immediately, IAB will be shining a bright light on
this issue and calling the industry to the table to collectively
solve this problem. We will call out bad practices. We will
highlight the contradictory practices in which agencies engage. We
will illuminate the costs of unnecessary contract provisions. And
we will work hard to gain consensus not just on the idea
of viewability, but the practice of viewability.
Among other activities, the newly formed Viewability Working
Group within the
IAB Ad Ops Council will be charged with revising the IAB
make-good recommendations for viewability by the end of the year.
Expect many more initiatives in this area as we head towards the
Operations Summit in New York this November. The stakes are too
high for us not to take bold action quickly or fail to monitor
industry progress in this endeavor.
Viewability is a remarkable achievement, but it only works when
all parties define viewability-based transactions in the same way.
We need the buy-side to step up and agree that as an industry, we
must have a more common way of transacting. Draining half our time
and resources on basic account mechanics is intolerable. Everyone
needs to be part of this solution.