As advertisers continue to shift more of their ad spend online, they are looking for ways to ensure their messaging reaches the desired target audiences in the swirling mass of zeroes and ones that make up the interwebs. And given that there are more places to advertise than ever before and that audiences seamlessly shift from local to international sites, this has led the the growing popularity of programmatic ad-buying platforms.
Over the last few years programmatic platform provider TubeMogul has been tracking the growth of programmatic ad buying, and the company has recently released its first quarter statistics for Australia and New Zealand.
The latest study showed that desktop pre-roll volumes rose by 20 percent in New Zealand while mobile had a six-fold jump, when compared to the fourth quarter results released last year.
Locally, the number of available pre-roll auctions over the first quarter averaged out at 127 million, marking a significant lift from the average of 102 million recorded in the previous quarter.
An increase in inventory would normally coincide with a dip in price due to the supply increasing, but this was not the case in the local market. The average price of 1,000 ad impressions (CPMs) increased from $18,68 last quarter to $19.60, indicating that there's still enough demand in the Kiwi market to offset the increase in demand.
Growth in mobile ad inventory was even bigger, with the study showing the number of available auctions went from two million last quarter to 12.6 million in the latest report. And despite this massive increase in inventory, the average price still increased from $16.71 to $18.76 between the two most recent quarters.
TubeMogul Australia and New Zealand managing director Sam Smith said the data shows that mobile video is quickly maturing as a branding medium.
“We are seeing increased attention and willingness by brands to move their digital advertising budgets into mobile and as a result publishers are making more inventory available,” Smith said. “Programmatic mobile video has moved beyond the test and learn phase to become a viable brand engagement opportunity for marketers.”
The increased demand for inventory was also reflected in the 'cost per minute viewed' statistics, which showed prices year-on-year increase in both pre-roll and mobile ads (skippable ads remained stable while connected TV ads were down on the figures tallied last year).
And While there is a clear demand for online ad inventory in New Zealand, its also brings new set of concerns for advertisers. Viewability has become one of the major talking points in the industry, and it stems from the fact that simply serving an ad onto a website doesn't necessarily mean that it is seen by the people who visit the site. Web design, the location of ad spots and how scrollable a site is are all factors that impact on the viewability.
Interestingly, New Zealand's viewability rating dipped from 44 percent in the first quarter of 2014 to 34 percent in the second quarter.
TubeMogul uses the the Media Ratings Council definition of viewability, which defines a viewable video impression as "one where 50 percent of a video player’s pixels are in view in an active browser tab for any two consecutive seconds." But this relatively vague definition is by no means the only definition floating around the industry, with various parties arguing about what accurately constitutes viewability.
And given the confusion in the industry, TubeMogul now also releases weekly VCPM ratings, which takes both CPM and viewability ratings into account (these stats are only applicable to Australia).
As explained by the TubeMogul release: "VCPM is simply the cost per thousand viewable impressions. You can think of it as the CPM divided by the viewability rate. Currently, this metric is only applied to pre-roll ads, and there was only sufficient data to analyze the Australian market in Q1."
As more advertisers adopt programmatic ad buying, the issue of viewability will become more important. But it isn't as new as it might seem. In an article published on the IAB NZ website, the industry body's former general manager Alisha Higgins pointed out that the issue is equally applicable to traditional media channels:
"The debate about viewability isn’t just limited to digital environments. For years, so-called traditional media including television and radio, have argued about the veracity of audience measurement systems. Some pundits says three out of four newspaper ads are not seen; one in three radio ads are not heard; and around 75 per cent of TV ads are dodged by viewers, who increasingly time-shift."
However, due to its increased measurability, digital advertising is often held to a higher standard than its traditional counterparts. And this places increased onus on publishers to prove that ads are actually viewed by real people.
Here's the full report: