Getting Seen Online is Getting Harder

This week, the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) launched a new initiative “IAB Believes…” to tackle some of the key problems facing online advertisers – in particular “viewability”.

This comes hot on the heels of a report by Adobe suggesting that more people than ever are simply switching off online ads and no longer viewing them – a problem that is estimated to cost the ad industry $21.8bn each year.

Part of this is because companies such as Google have made it easier to switch off ads to appease their more discerning users.

For example, to never see another YouTube ad again, just follow these three simple steps:

  1. Open up a YouTube video (any will do).
  2. Open up the developer console (Ctrl-Shift-J for Chrome, Ctrl-Shift-K for Firefox)
  3. Enter the following code: document.cookie=”VISITOR_INFO1_LIVE=oKckVSqvaGw; path=/;”;window.location.reload();

Boom. That’s it. No more annoying pre-rolls.

While this may be great for users, it presents an growing problem for advertisers and clients who are left wondering how these people will ever discover their targeted ads on the platforms they partner with.

The IAB believes that “viewability” (actually getting your message seen by your audience) is one of the top five issues facing online advertisers today who are paying increasingly more and getting less for their ad spend.

According to IAB’s CEO Guy Phillipson: “The increasing role of data and automated technologies in the online ad trading process means ad verification – be it viewability, ad fraud or brand safety – and privacy, has rightly come under increasing scrutiny.”

However it’s not all bad news. Many in the industry clearly think that it is time to turn up the volume on the solid progress that is being made in tackling these issues in collaboration with partner trade bodies like the IAB – both here in the UK and overseas – as well as with technology partners and ad vendors like Google.

Overall, the digital advertising industry is in healthy shape. In the UK digital advertising represents a £7.2bn market (that’s 40% of total media spend) and the renaissance of display, in particular, grew at 26% last year to reach £2.2bn, driven by video, social ads. There is continued growth in this area, following predictions that digital media spend will overtake TV ad spend in the coming years.

There is pressure on all sides is to ensure that paid ads sit comfortably next to “organic content” that users are so hungry for. But as long as ad content doesn’t mess with the user experience (or expectation) when browsing online content, the requirement for ad blocking will start to become increasingly irrelevant.

To find out more, visit the IAB blog.

Ben Romberg, Digital Strategist, Creative Strategy