Today’s biggest digital advertising challenges in online media quality have often troubled publishers that see incorporating viewability rates into the workflow as diminishing the value of their inventory, and making certain impressions impossible to sell. 

While most publishers have accepted that media quality monitoring has become a key factor in doing business with major advertisers, few are using their data to its fullest potential to highlight the quality of their inventory. If 2016 is the year the UK moves to transacting on viewability, publishers need to look to media quality across their sites and use it to deliver a better service to advertisers.

In nearly every other industry, inventory quality is a valuable tool for attracting customers, setting prices and increasing revenues. For example, imagine when visiting a Hatton Garden jewellers you were told that there was not only one price for every ring in the display case, but that you had just as much chance of buying a crystal as a diamond. Compared to the haphazard distribution model of our maturing online ecosystem, retailers regularly optimise their yields by charging a premium for rarer gems and generating additional sales from people willing to accept lesser-valued gems at a lower price.

Publishers can use similar tactics to improve the yield of their inventory by using the information they have about viewability, suspicious (fraudulent) activity and brand safety risk. Here are four steps to guide publishers on how to use media quality data to grow their business.

1. Know your inventory performance

Publishers, particularly premium or niche publishers are in an ideal position, with in-depth knowledge about their consumers and how they interact with their content.  Knowledge is power, and the more you know about your inventory, the better chance there is to improve its quality and thereby set effective pricing for advertisers.

The best action for publishers is to take a good, hard look at the data to understand how different types of inventory perform at a granular level for their site and business. For instance, ads around sports content may be most likely to be in view, while news content might have areas less suitable for brands with high brand safety thresholds. 

By using this analysis to determine highest-performing impressions, publishers can charge a premium to prospective buyers.

Instead of shrinking away from media-quality data, it is more beneficial to use this analysis to highlight highest-performing impressions to prospective buyers and charge a premium to those who are interested in purchasing them.

2. Optimise your site design 

Once publishers know which inventory is performing best on their site, they can start to increase the number of high-quality impressions available.

In Integral Ad Science’s’ Media Quality Report’, it found that the ‘Double MPU’ and ‘Skyscraper’ standard ad units are the most likely to be viewable. The Integral Ad Science Q4 2015 Media Quality Report, revealed that the Double MPU achieved the highest in-view rate, at 57.7% in view, followed closely by Skyscrapers with a viewability rate of 57.3% in view.  In comparison, Q4 data showed that the ‘Leaderboard’ ad unit, generally deemed ‘prime location’ and placed above the fold, reported nearly the poorest in-view rate at 42.5% in view; highlighting that users now tend to scroll down the page as soon as it loads.  

So it might make sense to redesign a site in a way that allows for more of the successful ad formats that work for a publisher’s business, while keeping a close eye on how different ad combinations affect user experience. All of this is dependent on measuring inventory performance from running A/B tests, experimenting, testing and reviewing results.
The easiest way to guarantee viewability is to make all ads sticky, so they follow your users as they scroll. However, a great viewability rate won’t be much help to a publisher’s bottom line if they create a page where the ads are so intrusive that people stop coming to their site.

3. Impressions based on media quality

After maximising the amount of viewable, fraud-free and brand-safe inventory publishers have available, it’s time to start establishing price tiers based on quality. Supply and demand will dictate the market.  

Retailers sell inexpensive and moderately priced inventory at different times of the year, and publishers can follow the same model.

4. Data to automate trafficking and transactions

To get ahead of the competition, it is possible to use inventory quality data to forecast how many viewable impressions will be available at any given time. This will allow publishers to automate prices based on expected scarcity, as well as making sure campaigns aren’t over-buffered by giving away too many impressions in order to meet a viewability quota. 

As technology develops, we are moving to a position where publishers will ultimately be able to traffic campaigns towards their highest or lowest viewable inventory directly within the ad server. Those publishers taking the steps today to establish best practices for leveraging their media quality data will enjoy an advantage over less-advanced competitors as buyers demand ever-greater digital advertising experiences for clients and their users.

With the rise of viewability these past few years, there is no doubt that media quality metrics are here to stay. Media quality data will help publishers to meet demand and enhance the digital advertising effectiveness for advertisers.