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Viewability and In-Game Advertising: Q&A With Oracle Moat’s Janelle De Rivera

Matt Kaplan
Content Strategist
10 min read
Posted on May 02, 2022

For both established marketing options like in-app advertising and for more nascent platforms like native in-game advertising, ensuring ads are viewable is crucial. To discuss the latest trends on all things viewability, I recently chatted with Janelle De Rivera, Director of Product Management for Moat Analytics at Oracle Advertising. Check it out!

Top Quotes From Janelle

Viewability Defined: “Viewability is a measure of whether or not an ad had a chance to be seen by a user. It gives marketers that base knowledge that their message was seen by a customer because there's not much value in an ad if it wasn't seen. Measuring viewability gives marketers a clearer understanding of their campaign effectiveness, and also allows advertising spend to be allocated to the most valuable media.

The MRC (Media Ratings Council) defines an impression as viewable if 50% of the ad is visible for at least one second for display ads and at least two seconds for video ads.

And viewability is one of the features demanded most by agencies and advertisers.  They want to ensure they're allocating their media spend towards quality inventory, and viewability is a key factor that advertisers consider when deciding how much to bid for impressions, so it makes it a crucial lever for publishers to optimize their ad revenue.”

Top Viewability Challenges: “Nobody wants to waste their media spend on ads that no one is seeing. There are definitely some factors that can affect viewability.

This includes the placement of the ads. Ads need to remain in view for at least one second for display or two for video. The placement really does matter, and things that can affect the placement also are page load times or the responsiveness of page design. The size and layout of the ad can also affect placement and viewability.

It's really important to measure the viewability of your inventory and make optimization decisions about ad sizes and placements based on actual performance data.

Another factor that also affects viewability is invalid traffic. Invalid traffic and ad fraud are pervasive in online advertising. It's estimated that about $44 billion a year on digital ad spend is lost to ad fraud.

With third party verification, advertisers can understand whether an impression is fraudulent or not. At Oracle, our Oracle Moat engineers and data scientists devote substantial effort in researching and developing methods of detecting IVT.”

Benefits of Using a Third Party for Viewability: “I think highly viewable inventory is only going to become more valuable to advertisers. And as digital advertising becomes more sophisticated, media buyers and sellers not only want to prove the value of their ads, but they also want to transact on viewability.

It becomes a common currency to use MRC viewability standards, and without a common measurement method, it would be impossible to really determine the true value of a viewed impression or optimize and forecast inventory effectively. All digital media owners should allow their inventory to be measured for viewability by an accredited third party. This helps assure marketers that their media investments meet industry viewability standards.

They can also then make informed budgeting and optimization decisions for their campaigns. A third-party measurement provider like Oracle Moat provides an independent position. Oracle is agnostic, and we don't sell or buy media. Our primary aim is to facilitate a safe environment for effective marketing. We strive to provide accurate IVT detection for all digital media and also recognize that measurement is a constant evolution. We continue to develop new ways to measure.”

In-Game Advertising Explained: “When we're referring to in-game advertising or native in-game advertising, we're talking about ads that take place as part of the gameplay – so really operating within the 3D scene itself.

This goes way beyond pre-roll or mid-roll display formats. These native ads can be roadside billboards or stadium banners or ads on the sides of buildings within the 3D game space.

The other thing to keep in mind as we talk about in-game advertising, the number of gamers has skyrocketed over the last few years. It's estimated that there are about 3 billion gamers worldwide. Advertisers have really come to see gaming as an effective platform for connecting with a diverse audience.”

Benefits of Advertising to Gamers: “Gamers also tend to spend hours at a time playing their favorite games – or if you're like my son, even watching other gamers play them on streaming video. So gaming is a unique challenge where the audience is really fully engaged, and to advertise in this unique space, there must be careful consideration to fit seamlessly in the gaming experience and not negatively impact it.

When we think about in-game ads that are inserted natively to the gaming experience, these are really high-resolution creatives, and they offer significant placement opportunities on premium games. Oftentimes, game publishers are involved in choosing where they think the ad should go to be complementary to the flow of the game. So in-game ad tech companies really maximize impressions with the best ad placements that blend in seamlessly with the immersive environment and really add another layer of realism to the 3D space.”

Why In-Game Advertising Needs Its Own Standards: “As we think about these ads, gaming ads look and behave very differently from other media channels. Web ad standards don't really work for 3D games.

If we think about a virtual billboard that could appear in a racing game, let's say a game player is driving a car and they may see a billboard ad on the racetrack. It may appear on their screen for just a few seconds – or it could be obscured by another in-game object, like another car ahead of them. Or it could be seen from an awkward angle as they approach a turn on the track.

In order for concepts like viewability to be translated effectively for in-game and other 3D environments, these are really important aspects that we have to consider. What impact does an ad rendering far away from a user in a 3D space have on the ad's ability to be seen? And what impact does the angle of the ad have?

In-game advertising platforms are aiming to give advertisers metrics that are similar to what they've used to in other channels. These are early efforts at really creating a starting point for brands and agencies to measure in-game ads. But ultimately, the industry will need to modernize a set of guidelines that arm both advertisers and developers with consistent metrics.

While there aren't in-game viewability measurement requirements that are defined by the MRC today, we are starting to see progress on industry standards. Recently, the IAB and the MRC have collaborated to update measurement guidelines for in-game ads and have established an in-game measurement task force.”

Understanding The Biggest Challenges Around In-Game Advertising and Viewability:

“As we look at the effect that the pandemic and lockdowns have had on users viewing behavior, people are forced to spend more time at home. Gaming usage grew. I think the global market for in-game advertising is estimated to grow to about $6.4 billion by 2027.

It will become crucial for effective measurement to be defined for in-game ads in order for advertisers to have the confidence to move significant budgets into in-game advertising. If we look at the history of new media, whether it was web, social or mobile, advertiser adoption was always preceded by pioneering measurement.

In advertising, we know that if you can't measure it, it doesn't matter. Providing third-party measurement is essential to really being able to build effective media strategies and build industry confidence and wider adoption. Defining these measurement standards for in-game advertising will really help to establish it as an ad category. It also protects gamers, brands and agencies, developers and the industry as a whole.

At Oracle, we're also super excited to be rolling out viewability measurement for in-game ads.

Our viewability measurement within in-game takes into consideration the percentage of the creative on screen, the ad size, the time in view and the angle of the ad. We also verify impression delivery and detect invalid traffic across in-game ad formats. We're really proud to introduce in-game measurement as a major breakthrough to understanding more about in-game environments, and also see this as a continued effort to work with in-game advertising partners and industry bodies to expand and evolve our measurement.”  

How Privacy and Targeting are Impacting Digital Advertising Viewability and Budget Allocation: “With the rise in regulation policy, we're seeing these consumer platforms implementing changes that restrict identifiable data that's previously been used for advertiser targeting. But in terms of ad spend, there still remains the ongoing need to measure and optimize budgets to make sure they're allocating their spend as efficiently as possible. 

But as the digital advertising industry moves beyond personal identifiers, I think it will be important for advertisers to diversify their portfolio of solutions, to include solutions that are built on a privacy-first approach to measuring.

When it comes to measuring effectiveness for new emerging formats like native in-game advertising, it does differ from other digital advertising. And in-game ads are typically not clickable. They're shown while the viewer is midway through a game, so they're unlikely to click away and go to an app store or e-commerce page. It's really seen more as brand awareness marketing.

And measuring in-game ad effectiveness is a combination of viewability measurement and brand lift studies rather than trying to directly track clicks or purchases. It's really that brand lift measurement which will be IDFA proof. This is something that could push in-game ads higher up on advertisers’ media plans.”

Charting The Future of Digital Advertising and Viewability: “I think we're faced with the reality that people have access to way more media than they could possibly ever consume in their lifetime. You're really recognizing that how people choose to consume their media is key to understanding their unique circumstances and unique mindset. It's really important to rethink the way we capture the attention of our audience.

And as we expand into new emerging online advertising, it's also super important to establish a baseline to measure against, like everything that's relatively nascent. There are still going to be a lot of things that we are not sure about or are unknown. I think emphasizing on transparency and standards across the industry will be key.

It's also important to recognize that the viewing environments today are totally different. Tt's not an easy apples-to-apples comparison, and we need to consider that when we are measuring attention as well.

One thing that remains is that people are there to consume content, but they do not want to be bombarded by advertising. And with emerging media like in-game, it's important to think about the overall experience we're providing and really asking ourselves if the experience for the customer is positive and engaging or is it annoying? And this should always be top of mind, but especially in newer channels like in-game advertising.

I think what's been important for the success of in-game advertising is the approach that's been taken to keep the gamer's experience in mind and not disrupt their experience. And when this is done well, this is really enabled advertising to fit harmoniously within the 3D game space and add to the overall real world feel of the game experience. and add to the overall real world feel of the game experience.”

About Oracle Moat

Oracle Moat is an ad measurement and marketing analytics suite designed to help advertisers, publishers, and platforms measure media performance across the breadth of their digital and TV advertising campaigns.

About the Interviewer  
Matthew Kaplan has over a decade of digital marketing experience, working to support the content goals of the world’s biggest B2B and B2C brands. He is a passionate app user and evangelist, working to support diverse marketing campaigns across devices.

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