Crunch Time For Publishers

AOP Crunch 2.6 — the Association of Publishers’ final Crunch event of the year — took place at Prince Philip House in London last week 

Although organised by a publisher-focused association, the main focus of the AOP Crunch is about bringing both the buy and sell sides of the programmatic industry together. 

The hope is that by working together they will be able to solve some of the biggest issues facing the industry, such as better data implementation and measurement of the true impact media buying has on the consumer funnel. 

But don’t worry if you couldn’t make it to the event. Calvin Field, Unruly’s Senior Manager of Platform Growth, Europe, was there in London on the 21st of November. Here are some of his key findings: 

A move away from traditional metrics

In his opening speech, Richard Reeves, the managing director of the Association of Publishers (AOP), remarked that for a long time traditional metrics used across programmatic campaigns (such as CTR, CPC and CPA) tend to favour performance campaigns rather than a content-first approach looking for longer-term impact of the advertising placed in surrounding areas. 

This has recently given rise to the concept of a CPM based on quality (QCPM), which would include wider metrics such as viewability and hover time. 

This would be both beneficial to publishers, who can focus more on content and the overall environment of their pages, rather than chasing clicks and page views, as well as the buyers who can be confident that their ads are appearing in premium, content-rich, and ultimately, trusted websites. Everyone’s a winner right? Well, kind of!

This is great, in principle. However, a lot of the conversations throughout the event raised the issue of measurement across the industry. For example, it’s great to focus on quality, but the concept itself is subjective and incredibly difficult to measure across the board. Let’s take viewability as an example. 

Viewability is a quantifiable metric that in principle is black and white. However, each vendor reports different numbers for what constitutes a ‘viewable’ impression. 

How do you define quality?

Both the presentations from The Telegraph and Mindshare presented a future where quality of inventory and longer-term metrics would be front and centre of any media buy.  The buy side’s main concern is, and has been, the basic principles of quality – inventory that’s viewable, fraud-free, brand-safe and in-geo. 

Once the basics have been nailed down, they can then focus on the longer-term metrics such as brand uplift and trust. The good news is that they feel they are now in a position where those basics have become standardised across their buys, which means moving forward, more focus can be placed on quality.  

What does the future hold?

Naturally, following the conversations outlined above there was a call for more collaboration across the industry to increase consistency in measurement of digital advertising across the board. There was also an overall focus on increasing the accuracy of metrics focusing on longer tail impacts, such as brand uplifts and trust. An example of this is The Telegraph’s claim that 85% of their readers would trust a brand more after appearing on their site, and are working on metrics that would help prove that to advertisers. 

Ultimately, over the years there have been many tools and metrics introduced to digital advertising, that although great in principle, have resulted in negative outcomes for both buyers and sellers. For example, clicks are a great way of highlighting user engagement and intent, although as a result of its implementation, buyers started judging the entire success of a campaign on its click-through rate. Which doesn’t really show the impact of the campaign, let alone the inventory that was bought. Therefore, the increase in focus on longer-term objectives and ensuring that ads appear in quality trusted and content-rich environments is exactly what programmatic advertising needs.  

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