Video Centers of Excellence: Keep An Eye On Viewability, Brand Safety & Fraud

Mark Flaharty April 03, 2018
Video Centers of Excellence: Keep An Eye On Viewability, Brand Safety & Fraud

In a previous entry of our Video Centers of Excellence series, we examined digital ad fraud and the establishment of safeguards to prevent further encroachment on brands. Safeguards in this area are such a pressing need that we want to revisit the topic through the prism of ad viewability – one of the most misunderstood issues in digital marketing, but also perhaps the most important issue when it comes to determining marketer value for every dollar they spend.

The statistics tell the story about the growing need for online ad transparency. In fact, according to Datorama, 78 percent of marketing leaders reported increased concern about brand safety over the last 12 months, with 63 percent of advertisers struggling to control their exposure to ad fraud and non-brand safe inventory.  

First and foremost, it’s important to know what is meant by viewability. As indicated by Digiday, viewability represents impressions that can actually be seen by human beings, rather than bots. For brands working with agencies, the viewability metric is intended to allow users to only pay for the ads getting seen by customers. However, there are different perspectives on what constitutes viewability. The Media Ratings Council (MRC) and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) classify a viewable video impression as 50 percent of an ad’s pixels in view for a minimum of two seconds, but GroupM requires 100 percent of the player in view, with half of the ad having the sound on.  

The lack of standardized measurements for viewability may cause confusion. While publishers are making their sites more viewable, most attribution methodologies do not include quality/viewability measurements. In such an uncertain atmosphere, the brand is ultimately responsible for setting its own definition of viewability, targeting viewability goals to reach campaign objectives.

Fortunately, technology is up to the task. For example, SundaySky’s SmartVideo algorithm evaluates the viewability of a digital ad and its placement in a brand-safe environment. The algorithm also reduces bot fraud by pinpointing human customer conversions or those that are likely. In addition, SundaySky’s product team constantly updates the SmartVideo algorithm to find and bid on inventory which offers the highest viewability, namely on premium sites featuring engaging and relevant content. VPAID tags accompany video on a publisher’s site, making it easier to gather metrics on viewability, while auto trainer algorithm logic optimizes for seasonality and ad placement.         

But technology alone will not solve the problem. Brands must be willing to implement new standards and practices, while integrating with data collection firms to understand the impact of ad viewability on performance. SundaySky teams with leading measurement partners, including DoubleVerify, Moat and IAS, to acquire post-bid impression information. We also adopt new protocols like Ads.txt (which stands for “Authorized Digital Sellers”), an IAB initiative to combat fraud and limit the ability for bad actors to profit from counterfeit ad inventory. This enables publishers and distributors to securely declare which companies are authorized to sell their inventory. Ads.txt increases transparency across programmatic buying – and as this protocol becomes more widely adopted, SundaySky will continue to identify authorized sellers and communicate the value of buying verified, safe publisher inventory that drives maximum return to customers.

As you put together your brand’s video center of excellence, these are the questions about ad viewability worth considering:

  • What are you currently doing about viewability?
  • Who are you partnering with for measurement?
  • What are your benchmarks?
  • What media is included?
  • How are you including these items into your attribution?
  • Does your attribution system incorporate that data or are you blending?
  • What type of performance are you seeing for viewability, brand safety and fraud?   


When it comes to ad viewability, each provider has a different approach and each brand has a different goal.  However, as long as brands avail themselves of the latest technology and collaborate with industry partners and trade associations, trust and transparency are achievable, driving brand safety and reducing ad fraud.

With over 4 million hours of SmartVideo ad engagement, SundaySky’s experience speaks for itself. Check out some of our work here.