CTV is Most Valuable Ad Format, Integral Ad Science Report Finds

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Integral Ad Science (Nasdaq: IAS), a global leader in digital media quality, today released its H1 2021 Media Quality Report (MQR). Based on trillions of global data events, the report provides insights into the performance and quality of digital media worldwide.

“Our latest report points to significant brand safety wins for advertisers, especially in the Americas, as they focused on digital media quality efforts and preparing for a post-cookie world,” said Tony Marlow, CMO, IAS. “CTV continues to remain top of mind for marketers and again topped the viewability rankings worldwide offering strong opportunities to engage consumers. We observed other notable trends that brands can double down to address in the coming months, such as higher ad fraud rates on desktop.”

Several noteworthy trends emerged in the first half of 2021:

Advertisers in the Americas Achieved Big Brand Safety Wins

Brand risk dropped across all formats and environments globally -- falling below 4% -- as more advertisers adopted sophisticated brand suitability and risk prevention strategies. Display was the safest ad format, averaging brand risk rates of 2.4% on desktop and 2.6% in mobile web globally. Brand risk for desktop display campaigns dropped in Brazil (-3.9pp), Mexico (-3.6pp), Canada (-3.4pp), and the U.S. (-2.4pp) – suggesting the growth of brand suitability tactics across the Americas. As more marketers across the Americas optimized away from violent content, these efforts helped push global brand risk for desktop display down 1.8pp annually to hit 2.4%. In the U.S., violent and offensive language accounted for 46% of brand risk, the first time that figure has dropped to less than half the total. Meanwhile in Canada, adult (7.2%) and violent (15.9%) content shares dropped to all-time lows. However, the share of brand risk linked to illegal drugs more than tripled in Canada to reach 36%, suggesting a higher tolerance for this content locally.

Europe Pushed Global Video Viewability Up, but CTV was Crowned Most Viewable 

While consumers stayed at home – relying on their favorite screens to stay connected and productive in the first six months of 2021 – video ad viewability shot up across all environments and most markets globally. Italy topped the rankings for video ad viewability on desktop, at 85.1% with Germany close behind at 78.9%. Meanwhile Italy and France led in mobile web with viewability levels reaching 87.4% and 84.6%, respectively. By contrast, the U.S. stayed at the bottom of both lists netting just 68.2% and 67.6% for the same metrics. Meanwhile, CTV ads remained the most viewable format overall, reaching 93.2%, with benchmarks for all other video environments unable to break the 80% mark. 

Time-In-View Rates Fall Globally

Average time-in-view for display campaigns experienced reductions across all environments. Worldwide average time-in-view for desktop display and mobile web display dropped 2% and 5% respectively, while mobile app display saw a nearly 25% reduction between H1 2020 and H1 2021. Desktop display ads remained in-view more than any other format in H1 2021, averaging 22.67 seconds, despite a 0.47 second annual reduction. Indonesia (26.34 seconds), Mexico (23.70 seconds), and Singapore (21.96 seconds) topped the rankings for mobile app display time-in-view. However, France was the only market that showed gains, adding 1.34 seconds to reach 14.39 seconds. 

Desktop Remains More Susceptible to Ad Fraud

Global ad fraud rates trended higher in desktop environments and lower across mobile. Optimized-against-ad-fraud levels rose by 0.2pp for desktop display and 0.4pp for desktop video, both reaching a 1% worldwide average. Ad fraud rates dropped 0.1pp for mobile web display and stayed flat for mobile web video, keeping mobile ad fraud rates at less than half the levels on desktop. Argentina, France, Poland, and Sweden were the safest markets when it comes to mobile web display ad fraud, each reaching only 0.1% in H1 2021. Japan maintained the highest ad fraud rates in mobile web environments, with display reaching 2.3% and video reaching 2.9%. Without optimization tools and strategies, campaigns encountered ad fraud rates up to 13 times higher, depending on environment and format.

IAS’s H1 2021 Media Quality Report analyzed trillions of global data events from ad campaigns between January 1 and June 30, 2021 to offer an industry barometer for ad buyers and sellers to benchmark the quality of their campaigns and inventory.

[Editor's note: This is a lightly edited press release]

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