It’s a well-known fact that Digital Advertising offers far better targeting and performance tracking opportunities than traditional channels like TV or published media. However, it has its own challenges and deficiencies. Imagine you have a campaign running online and you see that impressions are hitting the targets but somehow the click-through rate is below your expectations – and so are your conversions. What could the problem be?
One of the possible answers is viewability – displaying an ad does not always mean the user gets to see it or looks at it long enough to get the message. Measuring viewability is key to taking appropriate and timely measures to improve your campaign’s performance.
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Unfortunately, there’s still a lack of consistency around the definition of a “viewable impression“ and the best methods to measure viewability. The most widely adopted standard comes from the Media Ratings Council (MRC) and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB):
Nowadays, viewability is a key metric for programmatic traders and buyers when managing campaigns. All major DSPs include it in their reports. In addition, there are independent ad verification vendors such as Integral Ad Science, MOAT, or DoubleVerify.
According to IAS’s Media Quality report for H2 2020, the average viewability for video content was 73.6% for desktop and 73.7% for mobile web. The figures for display ads were 68.8 and 62.9% respectively. In the case of mobile app display ads, the global average was 72.1%. In Germany, the viewability of video content was 69.4% for desktop and 61.4% for mobile web, which is somewhat below the global average. The same is true for display ads with 67.2% for desktop, 61.4% for mobile web, and 55.2% for mobile app in Germany.
However, there is no “one-size-fits-all” benchmark with respect to viewability. First of all, it depends on the campaign goals. If the key goal is raising brand awareness and impressions are more important than clicks or conversions, then the target viewability should be at least 60-70%.
If the goal is conversions, viewability is not so relevant. You can go with lower viewability figures – as long as your performance goals are met.
It’s impossible to optimize both viewability and performance at the same time so in every case, you need to strike the right balance between the two.
As advertisers become more sophisticated and more aware, they go from simply looking at the data to questioning it and developing new standards. The values of viewability depend greatly on what we consider viewable and how we measure it. More and more often advertisers assess viewability in connection with other metrics that characterize attention and engagement, thus adopting a more holistic approach.
"…what I see across the region … particularly in the UK, in Germany and in France, is that viewability standards align on very high levels. However, there is one striking difference between advertisers: some take viewability data at face value and others probe into the data. … For some advertisers viewability still is a box-ticking exercise: … as soon as the metric is there - fine, problem resolved. You can show it to the CMO, you can show it to someone else in the organization and say, ‘Look, everything is wonderful’ … But others are probing and saying, ‘No, we need to have better standards on what is viewable, how long something is in the view, are the IAB minimum thresholds … enough or do we need to do more, can we trust the reports that our vendors are providing?’ And this is really a much more proactive approach to viewability that I think separates the leaders from the laggards."
Chief Economist, IAB Europe
Webinar “Driving Quality and Performance in Digital Media, EMEA 2021” (03.08.2021)
In programmatic display and video campaigns, the reason for low viewability figures could be the low CPM bids on the DSP. In that case, the ad is often displayed in a less desirable position, i.e. “below the fold” - in the portion of a webpage that a user must scroll to see.
Moreover, if you are optimizing towards another objective, the DSP will prioritize other metrics above viewability.
Another possible cause is heavy ads that load too slow to be registered as “in view”.
There are several key factors that affect the viewability rate of your ads. You can achieve better results in your campaigns by following the below guidelines: