Display Ad Viewability: Consumers Don’t See 56% Of Ads

Google recent­ly stud­ied its dis­play adver­tis­ing plat­forms to bet­ter under­stand ad viewa­bil­i­ty. What do adver­tis­ers and pub­lish­ers need to know?

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 0 comments

A new study from Think with Google looked at dis­play adver­tis­ing plat­forms, includ­ing Google and Dou­bleClick, to deter­mine what affects an ad’s viewa­bil­i­ty and found five fac­tors that impact the extent to which ads are seen. Specif­i­cal­ly, the study found:

  1. A small num­ber of pub­lish­ers are serv­ing most of the non-view­able impres­sions. In fact, Google says, 56.1 per­cent of all impres­sions it mea­sured are not seen, but the aver­age pub­lish­er viewa­bil­i­ty is 50.2 per­cent.
  2. In addi­tion, Google says, page posi­tion mat­ters. In oth­er words, the most view­able posi­tion is right above the fold, not at the top of the page.
  3. Ad size mat­ters, too. Google says the most view­able ad sizes are ver­ti­cal units and that means pub­lish­ers should con­sid­er which ad sizes are most effec­tive at dif­fer­ent page posi­tions when mak­ing ad place­ment and lay­out deci­sions.
  4. Fur­ther, page posi­tion isn’t always the best indi­ca­tor of viewa­bil­i­ty. Not all above-the-fold impres­sions are view­able, while many below-the-fold impres­sions are, Google says. In fact, Google found medi­an viewa­bil­i­ty for above-the-fold ad units is 68 per­cent while medi­an viewa­bil­i­ty for below-the-fold ad units is 40 per­cent.

Because viewa­bil­i­ty varies sig­nif­i­cant­ly by page posi­tion and ad size, Google says adver­tis­ers should con­sid­er the rela­tion­ship between the two while plan­ning cre­ative and tar­get­ing. And because page posi­tion “doesn’t tell the whole sto­ry,” Google says adver­tis­ers should ulti­mate­ly tar­get based on viewa­bil­i­ty mea­sure­ments to achieve the best results. Viewa­bil­i­ty can also help pub­lish­ers bet­ter iden­ti­fy and mon­e­tize valu­able below-the-fold inven­to­ry, Google adds.

  1. In addi­tion, Google says viewa­bil­i­ty varies sig­nif­i­cant­ly across con­tent ver­ti­cals, with the high­est viewa­bil­i­ty belong­ing to sites asso­ci­at­ed with “more cap­tive engage­ment,” like ref­er­ence, online com­mu­ni­ties, and games.

Adver­tis­ers seek­ing view­able impres­sions should there­fore steer towards high viewa­bil­i­ty sites and con­sid­er tar­get­ing sites with more engag­ing con­tent to achieve high­er viewa­bil­i­ty rates, Google rec­om­mends. Viewa­bil­i­ty data can also help pub­lish­ers increase the long-term val­ue of their dis­play inven­to­ry, Google adds.

Google says it con­duct­ed research using its Active View tech­nol­o­gy because there is increased inter­est in viewa­bil­i­ty among adver­tis­ers and pub­lish­ers after the Media Rat­ing Coun­cil lift­ed the view­able trans­ac­tion advi­so­ry ear­li­er this year, which rec­om­mend­ed the mar­ket­place refrain from trans­act­ing on view­able impres­sions as a dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing cur­ren­cy met­ric until issues relat­ed to the mea­sure­ment of view­able impres­sions could be resolved.

Since its imple­men­ta­tion in 2012, the MRC says mea­sure­ment tech­niques have evolved and “inno­v­a­tive ways have emerged that have enhanced the abil­i­ty of mea­sur­ers to deter­mine an ad’s viewa­bil­i­ty in numer­ous chal­leng­ing envi­ron­ments” and the lim­i­ta­tions on viewa­bil­i­ty mea­sure­ment had large­ly improved.

Accord­ing to the MRC, a view­able impres­sion occurs when 50 per­cent of an ad’s pix­els are on screen for one sec­ond.

The data used in Google’s study was based on dis­play ads in browsers and did­n’t include mobile in-app and video ads, Google adds.

The IAB, which is part of Mak­ing Mea­sure­ment Make Sense, or 3MS, a cross-indus­try ini­tia­tive that says it seeks to rev­o­lu­tion­ize the way dig­i­tal media is mea­sured, planned and trans­act­ed across the adver­tis­ing indus­try in order to make it a more valu­able medi­um for every­one involved in brand adver­tis­ing, says it is impor­tant for pub­lish­ers to tran­si­tion to view­able impres­sions because view­able impres­sions mean mar­keters will have more assur­ance that their ads have had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to be seen and they will be encour­aged to pur­chase dig­i­tal media because of its com­pa­ra­bil­i­ty to lega­cy media.

Not only will this allow mar­keters to invest more con­fi­dent­ly in dig­i­tal media and more intel­li­gent­ly allo­cate their bud­gets between dig­i­tal and oth­er media.

It will like­ly dri­ve a stronger and more pros­per­ous dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing indus­try over­all,” accord­ing to the IAB. “Tran­si­tion­ing from a served impres­sion stan­dard to a view­able impres­sion stan­dard is the num­ber one guid­ing prin­ci­ple in the Five Guid­ing Prin­ci­ples of Dig­i­tal Mea­sure­ment as defined by the 3MS ini­tia­tive. It will allow for, among oth­er advances, the for­ma­tion of a dig­i­tal gross rat­ing point that pro­vides reach and fre­quen­cy report­ing of view­able impres­sions and cross-plat­form com­par­isons.”

And, per com­Score, both media buy­ers and sell­ers can ben­e­fit from lever­ag­ing mea­sure­ment to improve cam­paign and inven­to­ry per­for­mance.

That’s because opti­miz­ing for viewa­bil­i­ty improves brand­ing impact for adver­tis­ers, com­Score says. With its part­ner ConA­gra Foods, for exam­ple, using viewa­bil­i­ty and audi­ence guar­an­tees achieved increas­es in attribute aware­ness lift of up to 70 per­cent and increas­es in pur­chase intent lift of up to 30 per­cent.

Per com­Score, adver­tis­ers and agen­cies must also com­mu­ni­cate their audi­ence and viewa­bil­i­ty goals and estab­lish a process for eval­u­at­ing per­for­mance.

What’s more, inte­grat­ed viewa­bil­i­ty and in-tar­get report­ing improves the accu­ra­cy of per­for­mance data. Com­Score says analy­sis of cam­paign data showed that viewa­bil­i­ty and val­i­da­tion rates var­ied across demo­graph­ic breaks, mean­ing that the com­mon prac­tice of apply­ing a flat viewa­bil­i­ty rate from one mea­sure­ment ven­dor across the audi­ence data from anoth­er mea­sure­ment ven­dor will often lead to under- or over-valu­ing ad deliv­ery across audi­ence seg­ments. To under­stand the true per­for­mance of the ad cam­paign, adver­tis­ers and agen­cies should use an undu­pli­cat­ed val­i­dat­ed in-tar­get met­ric, com­Score says.

Pub­lish­ers should use tools to enhance their viewa­bil­i­ty and audi­ence deliv­ery. Anoth­er com­Score part­ner, CafeMom, used comScore’s vME mea­sure­ment plat­form to iden­ti­fy key adver­tis­ing inven­to­ry on its sites that had room for improve­ment and then test­ed new design strate­gies to bring up their viewa­bil­i­ty rates. Ulti­mate­ly, CafeMom more than dou­bled the viewa­bil­i­ty of this inven­to­ry, great­ly improv­ing the val­ue of one of its most com­mon ad slots, com­Score says.

Pub­lish­ers should also set expec­ta­tions for cam­paign deliv­ery. That means know­ing the qual­i­ty of their inven­to­ry and, once goals are set, they should make sure they have access to the same cam­paign data the adver­tis­er is using to track deliv­ery, com­Score says. This empow­ers pub­lish­ers to make changes to ensure the qual­i­ty of their deliv­ery and to meet the audi­ence and viewa­bil­i­ty guar­an­tees through­out the cam­paign.

Pub­lish­ers should also con­tin­u­ous­ly mon­i­tor and opti­mize their inven­to­ry, com­Score says, to ensure adver­tis­ers are sat­is­fied that their ads are run­ning on high-qual­i­ty inven­to­ry that will give their cam­paigns the oppor­tu­ni­ty to make an impact on their audi­ence.

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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