Nobody likes advertising

cookie monster

Let’s be honest. No one really likes advertising, and most of us will either ignore it simply out of habit, or go to lengths to use tools such as Adblock Plus and/or a cookie management tool such as Cookie Monster or simply disable cookies entirely. We will use NoScript to prevent the ads from loading up, and clean Macs/more browser extensions to prevent Adobe Flash from ever showing its face in our presence.

I was once this sort of person, however it’s only since working in the advertising industry that it’s hit home that while we may be irritated by and dislike advertisements, people make their livelihoods off them - and now I’m one of these people.

In some ways, advertising is worse than eLearning - while eLearning is generally a chore and not a joy for most people, at least it’s something they know they have to put up with and will complete, maybe appreciating some of the work we put into it in the process. Advertising on the other hand, people avoid like the plague when they can and are suspicious of their motives generally.

Surprisingly enough though, in an article published today, it seems ‘ad viewability’ in Australia is 10% higher than in the US, which is generally where we get more ‘impressions’ mostly due to the fact that the US swamps us in sheer numbers of people.

Google claims that 64% of online ads in Australia are viewable, compared with 54% in the US, but my first question was ‘what is their definition of viewable’? Their definition from last year was the following:

[T]he definition surrounding what is considered as 'viewed' was that the inventory must be screened for at least one second and be at least 50% loaded. Video ads are to be counted as 'viewed' if they played for two seconds. Viewability as a measure is still currently being trialled in the US and Australia.

To me, this method of measurement sounds dodgy at best. An advertisement could easily sit to the right of my content for much more than a second while I read an article on the page and continued to scroll.

The related article from early 2014 goes on to emphasise that it is not mentioned whether the two second measure for video has to be two consecutive seconds either. Having said that, we can’t be 100% sure of how exactly Google tracks this viewability, and I doubt they’re sharing anytime soon though they’re trying hard to explain what it is all about. No wonder they’re trying so hard though:

The [Interactive Advertising Bureau] here is still working with industry to understand and measure viewability across the web because there is still widespread confusion around what it actually means. The IAB does not yet recommend viewability be a core buying metric for online ads.

For as long as I’ve been with this new company, they have been billing based on CPM (cost per thousand impressions) in terms of numbers of clickthroughs in our case, so I’ve been told. Assumedly, this discussion of viewability as a measure really has no bearing on what we do.

Regardless, the reliability of this research remains questionable as most of the data in this research are from Active View, DoubleClick and YouTube - all owned by Google - and doesn’t take into account any other advertising services out there. As one of the largest advertising companies, Google can have the data to do this kind of research yet at the same time can have the power to begin driving changes we don’t necessarily like.

While I’m not really won over by the online advertising industry so far, it has been interesting to see how it works from the backend of things and I’ve been given a new appreciation for the people that do this kind of work, even with more and more odds stacked against them these days. The jury is out on whether this will be the industry that I will stay in, but I’m certainly in it to learn some skills, and learn I shall before I think of moving on.

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