For marketers in Australia concerned about viewability and brand safety the data from the ANZ Media Quality Report H2 report from IAS provides some cause for concern, but also some underlying good news.

The report also contained New Zealand data for the first time, where the outline looks comparatively better, on a range of fronts.

It is important to understand the results in the context of current trends around the world.

According to the authors of the study, “Some of the industry’s biggest advertisers have voiced their concerns about brand safety in digital advertising.”

The authors say a lack of control over the type of content their campaigns run within leaves marketers feeling that their brands are at significant risk.

As the report notes, “Fraudulent and non-viewable impressions never reach an actual human being let alone add value for advertisers.”

“Brand risk though, is far more nefarious. An ad placed within violent or salacious content can garner negative press and inflict damage that costs advertisers brand equity.”

The authors also note that while programmatic advertising creates efficiency, it also increases the risk that campaigns will run in unsafe environments since advertisers have less control over where their ads appear.

“Similarly, in walled garden environments, brand risk is heightened as it is an environment based on user generated content.”

The news cycle effect

For the second half of the year brand safety took a hit as the news cycle turned more violent, the trend towards improved desktop display viewability continued, and the ad fraud numbers deteriorated, but not for companies who have put effective strategies in place.

Drilling into the results,there was quite a sharp increase for desktop brand risk in Australia which grew almost 15 per cent from 7.2 per cent to 8.2 per cent across publisher direct and programmatic buys. 

The study, found that nearly 4 in 10 impressions that served on unsafe web pages in Australia appeared alongside violent content.

Australians didn’t suddenly become more violent, the news cycle did.

Drill a little deeper into the data and you find that there was a big increase in publisher direct desktop display advertising within the violence category.In fact it grew from from 36.1% of total risk in H1 2017 to 55.9% in H2 2017.

Likely this is due to an influx of premium publisher coverage around violent incidents, and these are classified as moderate risk and in fact impressions considered to pose a moderate risk to brands increased by 17.0% from H1 to H2 2017.

On viewability, the news from Australia is good and indeed the market has improved significantly on this front.

Australia’s publishers deliver higher desktop display viewability levels than their international peers. Between H1 and H2 viewability increased from 52.6 per cent to 57.2 per cent.

This is consistent with the trend towards improving desktop display viewability numbers, globally and compares favourably to 54.7 per cent in the US and 53.3 per cent in the UK.

Brand safety continues to fluctuate with the news cycle and it’s important advertisers remain vigilant. In 2018, expect to see increased effort across the digital supply chain to address advertisers’ concerns around viewability and brand safety according to James Diamond, managing director, IAS Australia and New Zealand.

“The focus on media quality will exacerbate supply challenges, capping the availability of high quality digital impressions, and leading to CPM increases in the market.”

Ad Fraud

In part, due to the nature of the Australian market and the high concentration of ownership of key media assets by a few reputable media brands, Australia has fewer fraudulent impressions.

But the market is not without problems. For instance, non-optimised fraud increased grew strongly from 5.4 per cent in H1 to 7.7 per cent in H2 2017 representing a more than 40 per cent increase.

So the numbers tell us that fraud risk is on the rise in Australia. However there is good news for brands who take the problem seriously.

Fraud rates for campaigns optimised against fraud remained relatively flat showing optimisation efforts are paying off by keeping fraud rates low.

First New Zealand results

New Zealand has far fewer fraudulent impressions on desktop display and the reason is likely very simply. As a smaller market the opportunity for fraud is reduced.

But New Zealand’s advertisers operate in a market with considerably less brand risk (28 per cent less in fact) for desktop display.

However like Australia most of the brand risk (55 per cent) falls in the violence category. Illegal drugs are the second biggest issue, comprising 11 per cent of risk.


While there is no local data for video, the global trends are worth understanding.

On the upside, the author’s report the media quality story for desktop video is bright. “Between H1 and H2 2017 there have been significant improvements in viewability and fraud levels. Viewability across all buy types has improved 11.1 per cent to 67.9 per cent.”

And further good news, fraud rates have also significantly improved and are now just over 7 per cent for all buy types.

Completion rates for video also contain good news.

Worldwide efforts to address and improve viewability have paid off as global viewability averages have improved across the board. Programmatic is a particular bright spot with global average viewability improving over 19 per cent comparing H1 to H2 2017.

Brand safety for global desktop video was one area not to show significant improvement, but even here, overall global desktop video risk remained relatively stable. And there were some significant decreases across the high and very high risk thresholds.

Most of the risk fell within the moderate category which reduced the impact of the decrease in high and very high risk categories.

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