Acting Like Congress Will Not Solve Viewability and Fraud

By: Jay Friedman, COO at Goodway Group. There are a lot of articles I read only to end up shaking my head.  Then there are those that leave me like this: To be fair to Ryan, it wasn’t his writing as much as it was commentary by others.  Skip down to the quote by Jennifer Gardner of Unilever. “We define viewability as an ad that is viewed by a real person who is in our target audience in an appropriate environment.”  Let’s dissect.  “Viewed?” Fair enough. “Real person?” Sounds reasonable. “Target audience?” Hold up. Are we talking about viewability or targeting efficacy? Then, “appropriate environment.” Again, this has nothing to do with viewability. This, from the Director of Media Investment and Partnerships at a colossal consumer packaged goods organization.  Feeling like Jon Stewart yet? It gets better. Deeper in the article, Ryan Bonifacino, SVP of digital at Alex and Ani, mixes in the issue of attributing conversions and states that viewability concerns are raised with lower funnel attribution while fraud occurs in mid- to upper-funnel.  Maybe his comments were taken out of context, but an ad can be determined in-view or out-of-view regardless of where it took place in the funnel.  Ad fraud can, and does, occur in any environment, and is not just bots but often unseen ads on real human’s browsers – regardless of where that user is in the funnel. It doesn’t get much more inefficient than the U.S. is congress. It’s 15% average approval rating in 2014 and the fact that the public rated cockroaches and traffic jams above them show just how bad it is. The stats don’t shock me, though. Have you ever heard how quickly the rhetoric goes off track when discussing an issue?  Take immigration. Have you noticed how quickly a politician takes the immigration issue and says, “We can’t fix immigration without first fixing the poverty levels in this country, ensuring that everyone gets a good education, and the value of the dollar is strong to support the hard-working middle class that work hard to earn a living each day.”  Rather than sticking with immigration and focusing on fixing a few obviously problems with common sense solutions, the issues of poverty/welfare, education, and the fed’s dollar policy are intertwined. No bill could even attempt to fix all of these issues, nor would any congressional member put their name on it and introduce it.  Actually, that’s the point.  Congress doesn’t want to fix things because it might jeopardize their re-election.  However, we’re not up for re-election, so why are we acting like this? Ryan Joe, the author, astutely writes, “So now the scenario is such that viewability, attribution and fraud are all intertwined. Yet they’re all separate measurements.”  I would encourage Jennifer and Ryan to look at each of these very separately.  We absolutely can make progress on each one without touching the other.  What will happen is that by improving each one a little at a time – like kicking a bowling ball up a soccer field – the three will ultimately meet at the goal line and enable each other’s success.