UK programmatic ads outperform direct buys for the first time

Apr 2, 2019 | Ads, Mobile

Programmatic viewability rates out-performed publisher direct buys across desktop and mobile web display in the UK, according to new research.

The latest Integral Ad Science (IAS)Media Quality Report provides UK benchmarks for viewability, brand safety, and ad fraud across all digital environments and channels.

The report reveals that for the first time, programmatic viewability rates out-performed publisher direct buys across desktop and mobile web display.

During H2 2018, 69.1% of programmatic UK desktop display ads met the minimum viewability standards*, rising by 8.2% from 63.4% in H1 2018.

This is compared to a rise of only 3.9% for publisher direct ads, which rose from 65.1% to 67.7%. Viewable impressions in mobile web environments also increased 16.6% year-on-year from H2 2017 to H2 2018, with 62.4% of programmatic mobile web display impressions now meeting minimum viewability standards. This data shows the industry’s response to the demand for higher standards in programmatic inventory from the buy side.

When determining the greatest opportunity to capture UK consumer attention, advertisers can look to time-based measurement. Video campaign impressions provide the best opportunity, surpassing both display and mobile web for the total length of time an ad was in view, at 13.4 seconds versus 10.7 seconds and 7.9 seconds respectively in H2 2018.

Nick Morley, EMEA MD at Integral Ad Science, comments: “Findings from the H2 2018 Media Quality Report demonstrate the major shift towards programmatic trading, with the term ‘programmatic’ no longer associated with lower quality inventory. This is likely due in part to an increase in publishers utilising programmatic to sell valuable inventory, via private marketplaces (PMPs). Another noticeable shift is that seen in video engagement, with content consumption patterns reflected in the time-in-view data.”

Brand risk falls to two year low in H2 2018

The report also highlights how brand risk continued to decrease – the volume of desktop display ads served in inappropriate environments fell by more than a quarter (28.9%) from H1 2018, reducing from 4.5% to 3.2% in H2 2018. When looking over a longer time period, it can be seen that brand risk has fallen by just over half in the past two years (52.9%), down from 6.8% in H2 2016. Due to an ecosystem-wide focus on cleaning up digital advertising, it is evident industry progress is being made and online environments are becoming safer for brands.

Fraudulent impressions increase in H2 2018

For ad fraud, the report shows that for optimised UK desktop display impressions, 1% was wasted in H2 2018 – an increase of 40.3% since H1 2018 (0.7%), this is in part due to fraudsters being attracted to the lucrative holiday shopping period in the last quarter of the year.

Morley continues: “Thanks to increasing budget flowing to digital, advertisers are demanding greater quality and maximised impact from their entire media plan. According to the IAB UK £2.3 billion was spent on display advertising in H1 2018 – as fraud hovers around the 1% mark we can estimate that roughly £23 million of that UK spend was wasted by being intercepted by fraudsters. With this insight into the performance of media, advertisers can plan accordingly to improve their ad effectiveness.”

Integral Ad Science’s H2 2018 UK Media Quality Report highlights brand safety, ad fraud, viewability, and time-in-view trends for programmatic and publisher direct advertising across display, video, mobile web, and in-app advertising. The Media Quality Report analysed data from hundreds of billions of UK impressions, from advertising campaigns that ran between July 1st and December 31st 2018. The full report can be viewed here.

*Viewability is determined for display and mobile ads as 50% of the ad unit in view for one continuous second, large display ad formats as 30% of the ad unit in view for one continuous second, and video ads as 50% of the ad unit in view for two continuous seconds as per MRC standards

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