Improve your ad view-ability in 4 easy steps

“Viewability” – We media & advertising enthusiasts have been hearing this buzzword for years. But why is it important and why are we STILL talking about it? Viewability still plays a significant role in digital advertising, and chances are it isn’t going away anytime soon. Let’s unpack this buzzword and dive into it, because ultimately we want to ensure that users are not only seeing your advertising campaigns, but engaging with them!

If we want to get technical (and who doesn’t?!) the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), considers a display ad viewable when 50% of an ad’s pixels are in view on the screen for a minimum of one second – this includes desktop, mobile and tablet. We use viewability as a metric to track only impressions that can be seen by users, because in the end, those are the impressions we truly care about. For example, if an ad loads below the fold of a webpage but a user doesn’t scroll down far enough to see it, that impression would not be considered viewable. Not only is viewability impacting the user experience, but it’s negatively impacting the advertiser’s investments. Ideally, viewability allows advertisers to pay for ads that are actually being seen, but that’s not easy to accomplish.

As more dollars are shifting from traditional to digital media, advertisers are wasting dollars on non-viewable impressions. In fact, nearly half of all digital ads served are not viewable. According to industry leader Integral Ad Science (IAS), 47% of all display ads served are out of view and 42% of all video ads served are out of view.

How are agencies and publishers tackling this issue? Viewability is opening the doors and allowing publishers to introduce cutting-edge ad units specifically designed to get as many consumer eyes on the ad as possible. In addition to this, many marketers are now buying on viewable CPMs (Cost per Thousand Impressions), as opposed to straight CPMs. With a vCPM, you bid on an ad and are only charged for impressions that are visible to the user (50% of an ad in view on the screen for a minimum of one second). When buying on a CPM, you bid based on 1,000 impressions and some of those impressions may be below the fold and not viewed by the user.

We need to prioritize viewability within our digital display buys, holding publishers to a 70% or higher viewability requirement. Ultimately, unviewable or difficult-to-view ads are impacting our ability to connect with the user, and it’s up to us as an industry to come up with a creative, accountable, and measurable solution.

According to the IAB, digital measurement is the single greatest obstacle to the growth of most ad agencies. In fact, most agencies are still judging ad effectiveness by ‘Click-Through Rate’ and ‘Cost Per Thousand’ (CPM). Unfortunately, relying solely on those metrics to measure effectiveness can be inaccurate.

What lies ahead in terms of viewability is still unclear; nobody knows what impact it will have on the market. Attribution and cookie modeling are all affected by viewability trends. However there are some ways to ensure we’re improving viewability:

  1. Insist 3rd party viewability measurement technology is in place – DCM, MOAT, Integral Ad Science, Double Verify, or other trustworthy platforms
  2. Optimize placements towards engagement rate as well as CTR
  3. Purchasing above-the-fold, responsive ad units – Interstitials, Custom Units, Home Page Takeovers
  4. A/B test creative and constantly measure performance

Viewability isn’t a term we should be afraid of, but it’s also one we shouldn’t ignore. The future of digital advertising lies in the hands of those who understand these trends and are dedicated to finding a tactic that works. Ads are meant to be viewable, so let’s keep them that way.