Viewability: How does it impact your ad campaigns?

Digital advertising platforms are vital in aiding marketers to target their specific audiences across the various digital media channels. They help marketers roll out tailored content to individual demographics at the opportune moment. It’s no wonder that such promises appeal to marketers – especially since consumers are spending more and more time on these digital channels. But can they deliver on their word?

According to recent research by comScore,54% of advertising delivered goes unseen. Why is this the case? Because some ads are buried on web pages, run simultaneously with other conflicting ads, or are hosted in tiny, easily ignored video players. This means marketers are wasting huge portions of their media budget on advertising that was never seen by their target audience.

Today’s marketers are juggling multiple vendors; from media buyers to publishing agencies and technology providers. More often than not, each will have their own methods and standards of measuring user engagement. Visibility into who is really seeing these ads and evaluating vendor ROI has therefore become increasingly difficult.

So what exactly is viewability? According to the recently published IAB standards, viewability measures whether an ad was served with the opportunity to view, defined as 50% of the ad unit being in the user’s viewable screen for at least one second. The challenge, therefore, is achieving a level of transparency wherein marketers feel they know who and what is driving engagement.

A fundamental move from an “impressions served” to an “impressions viewable” currency would be a huge industry step forward, impacting media planning, vendor selection and attribution modelling. Unfortunately this change is yet to happen on an industry wide level, but there are steps you can take to help implement some viewability standards.

Understand how your vendors are measuring viewability. With varying methods of measuring viewability being used across the industry it’s important that you and your vendors are all on the same page. The most commonly used measurement is the geometric method. This uses the position of the ad unit relative to the browser window in order to discern whether an ad is viewable. An example of this would be if an ad banner was to be placed at the top of a web page but the viewer has scrolled down to the bottom. In this case the ad would not viewable and therefore does not engage.

Evaluate your vendor mix by understanding the value of each viewable engagement. The vCPM method measures the value of vendors’ engagement. This takes the CPM and divides it by the vendor viewability rate, calculated using the geometric method. For example, if one vendor is costed at £5.50 per CPM and is in view 65% of the time, their vCPM is equal to £8.46.

In short, planning is key to success. Factor in your viewability standards (and all that comes with it) into any upcoming media plan. This will allow you to analyse and discuss its results with your measurement provider and media buying partners and optimise your campaigns accordingly.

With brands increasingly demanding transparency into their advertising spend we are at the forefront of a huge shift in online advertising. This is very encouraging as it means more industry accountability, ultimately leading to the increased effectiveness of all future advertising strategies.

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