We’ve all seen web pages that look like this. I’m on my laptop on a Sunday afternoon, just trying to find a good recipe for monkey bread, and advertising is screaming at me from all directions.

There’s a lot going on here: two competing videos on the right, a banner next to the ingredients (seriously DirecTV? The NFL ticket? You really don’t know me) and most intriguing—an anchored leaderboard actually laying over another banner ad.

I don’t think anyone would try to argue that this is a good user experience, nor would anyone say these ads are achieving the likely KPI of engagement—after all, this mosh pit of banners and videos are presented to me at a time when I just want to make monkey bread. Everything else is distracting and annoying.

It’s my job to create digital media plans for Paulsen clients. It hurts to see this, because I know that without diligence, clients can fall victim to this exact scenario. The buyer cannot always control the outcome.

Pages like this make it easy to believe that in the open programmatic world, only one-third of banner impressions purchased have any impact after we filter out non-human traffic, non-viewable impressions and excessive frequency (source: Advertising Research Foundation).

The ag industry has made great strides in viewability improvement, but with that comes decreased inventory (fewer impressions available for purchase). With a tendency to move budgets to digital, the industry is scaling up, creating excessive frequency issues and bad user experiences. No doubt, there’s more work to be done. Reach and frequency need to be brought back into the conversation.

How can we do better?

Using multi-media platforms can help, but the industry as a whole needs to improve on the user experience of serving banners and videos. Paulsen clients know that we will always encourage a multi-media approach. The graphic below helps illustrate why a layered approach in building media plans is important (source: Advertising Research Foundation).

Hope on the Horizon

Parsec Media has recently introduced Adelaide, software that measures the Attention Unit (AU). The AU is a standardized measure that evaluates clutter, position and on-screen duration to offer an overall attention metric. A normalized view of attention across platforms, channels and formats is the foundation for Adelaide’s comparative quality metrics. Attention Units are used to measure quality, calculate value and optimize spend. In short, it has the potential to redefine how digital advertising is planned and purchased.

It’s pretty cool to think that we might finally have an optic into campaign performance and ad quality. Switching our metric to time and attention rather than delivery is a necessary next step in the industry.

Rewarding quality in programmatic digital ad buying is long overdue. I hope that eventually, when I find a monkey bread recipe, it won’t be a painful experience—and that the ads I see will be creative, well-targeted and relevant.