You Wouldn't Accept 70% Performance Elsewhere, So Why Should We With Viewability?

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I bought a pair pair of shoes online last week. My order was confirmed, my credit card charged. The shoes never arrived. So this week, I naturally went back to the same site and bought three more pairs.

Absurd, right? In real life, we'd never knowingly spend our hard-earned money on goods and services we don't expect to receive. We would never settle routinely for 70% performance on the things we buy. But that's what's happening with the current crisis in viewability.

It's unbelievable that in 2015 our industry is still talking about viewability and setting targets as low as 70%. What it says is that we're comfortable knowing that three in 10 of our ads have no reasonable prospect of being seen. We can be realistic: It is clear that 100% viewability is not within the realm of possibility today.

But digital publishers can and must do better. Seventy percent is not good enough.

The crisis in viewability is bigger than inefficiency. It's this endless cycle of policing, tracking, measuring and correcting to counter waste and fraud -- and the investment it requires. It's taking our eye off the ball from what really matters, which is making great consumer experiences and building meaningful connections. The industry needs to focus on creating advertising that people care to remember. But that requires a baseline expectation that the ads can actually be seen.

So where do we go from here?

Julie Fleischer, senior director-data, content and media at Kraft Foods Group
Julie Fleischer, senior director-data, content and media at Kraft Foods Group

We need to move beyond policing, so that the conversations we're having with publishers are about the things they can uniquely offer marketers that drive their businesses. Each meeting we spend talking to a publisher's sales team about which tags they accept and how we will measure and track viewability is a lost opportunity for all of us. The industry moves forward when we build new and engaging ways to connect with consumers. We need to fix viewability so we can focus on helping digital grow to become the media we all need it to be.

Kraft believes that digital is our future, because it cures the ails of less measureable, less precise mass media. Kraft is reinventing marketing around data, infrastructure and content to be more informed, addressable, personal and meaningful. We have invested significant resources in building a proprietary data platform that allows us to know, serve and engage our consumers uniquely and at scale. We have trained our marketers on data literacy and reshaped our agency relationships to capitalize on our infrastructure and the opportunities that exist in today's media landscape to act with agility and purpose. We're creating new capabilities in content creation so that we can tell personal stories and launch experiences that attract and delight our next generation of consumers.

The next evolution of marketing is addressable and complex. It demands new capabilities, tools and talents. Agile marketing is challenging us to reexamine the way we go to market and privilege complexity over simplicity, fragmentation over scale and conversation over dialogue. This will be the battlefield on which brand penetration and market share will be won over the next decade. It is a massive shift for our industry and requires commitment, focus and investment.

We can't get there if we are still worrying about whether our ads are able to be seen. The crisis in viewability is both a distraction and an impediment to growth.

The digital publishing industry needs to get its act together. It will only be a viable alternative to the legacy media channels if it proves that it can deliver results that justify shifting investment. Today's digital publishers are focusing on ad sales, cash flow and multiples, but they need to clean house, fix viewability and the other black marks on their product and refocus on what matters: driving value by serving their advertisers better than the competition (especially with the oversupply of available impressions today). The discussion needs to move beyond viewability and get back to delivering value.

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