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What Is Ad Viewability?

What Is Ad Viewability?

Ad Viewability

Ad viewability is the concept of how visible ads on a website or mobile app are to users. For an ad to be considered “viewed”, at least 50% of the banner or creative must display on screen for more than one second, as defined by the Internet Advertising Bureau’s standard for what consists a viewable impression.

Why Is Ad Viewability Important?

Ad viewability is a relatively new concept in digital advertising, but has become a hot topic ever since a report from comScore showed that 54% of display ads were not being seen, despite advertisers paying for them.

Marketers would calculate the relative success of a campaign by dividing the number of ads served by the number of clicks. This gave the ultimate digital advertising metric: the clickthrough ratio, or CTR.

Over time, however, advertisers began to question the practice of using ads served as a proxy for ads viewed. For example, it occurred to them that if an ad appeared below the fold at the bottom of a webpage, but a user never scrolled down far enough to see it, that impression should not be counted.

In addition, it became clear that there were other factors that could contribute to an ad not being seen: users clicking away from a page before the ad loaded or even bots or proxy servers opening pages, rather than live human beings.

Because of these factors, advertisers are beginning to demand that publishers quantify the percentage of their ads that are actually viewed and structure their advertising rates accordingly, and it is important for media companies to ensure that their ads are viewable so that they can keep their advertisers happy.

How to Improve Ad Viewability

Because there is such a high ROI correlated with improved viewability, it is in the best interest of publishers to prioritize improving the visibility of their ads.

Publishers can begin by designing their pages in such a way that the ads load with maximum viewability potential. This can either mean designing a page so the ad unit is ‘above the fold’ or is a ‘sticky’ ad unit. Sticky ad units are a type of ad that remain locked in a specific location when the user scrolls.

Publishers can also make their sites mobile-friendly by using responsive templates that resize according to the device where it is being viewed. This guarantees a good user experience no matter the device (tablet, phone or desktop).

Ad viewability also improves through good design principles: a clear visual hierarchy, symmetry and pleasing proportions, white space and clean design.

Another key consideration for ad viewability is speed. Sites that are laden with ads from multiple ad networks can typically take a long time to load, which can result in a lower ad viewability as users click away before the ads load. Techniques for speeding up ad delivery can greatly improve ad viewability.

In addition to activities focused on the delivery of ads, publishers can also begin measuring and validating ad viewability through third party software and making those metrics available to advertisers.

Publishers who want to show that they are ‘playing fair’ can partner with one of 15 Media Ratings Council Accredited Viewable Display Impression and/or Ad Verification Vendors, who measure viewability across digital campaigns.

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