AUSTIN, TX: The issues around the viewability of digital ads have been exaggerated by those with an interest in doing so, according to a leading industry figure.

Noting the extent of negative press coverage around "the two ugly sisters of the trust and supply chain – viewability and fraud", John Montgomery, CEO for GroupM Interaction North America, suggested that these stories were "apocryphal and based on self-interest".

"It's confused marketers a hell of a lot," he told, before going on to argue that there was "a huge good news story to be told".

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The nature of that story, he reported, was that GroupM had seen viewable ads "increase by nearly 30% year-on-year" while other agencies he spoke to had seen the same thing.

"Web designers and publishers are redesigning their pages to make them much more viewable," he said. "And marketers are responding by paying premium rates for more viewable ads."

There was, of course, more to be done but the direction of travel was hugely encouraging.

The same was true of the other sister. "On fraud, the industry has spoken – media buyers and clients – to say 'we won't tolerate a high degree of fraud in our advertising, we need to have this addressed'."

Montgomery pointed to the existence of the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), a new body set up to counter ad fraud, identify criminal behaviour and share policing resources among members, and which includes leading brands, agencies, internet and adtech companies among its members.

A TAG certification could become a standard feature of online ad buys, according to Mike Zaneis, the organisation's interim CEO. "You are going to hear a lot more about this," he said. "I think it will become a regular part of the buying process."

Backing the new group, ANA president Bob Liodice said businesses could invest millions of dollars to save billions.

Data sourced from, Advertising Age, Advertising Week; additional content by Warc staff