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The view on viewability

Written by Charlotte | 10-Aug-2015 10:06:00

The buying of digital display media in an automated and real-time fashion is taking an increasing proportion of online display advertising budgets.

This is supported by research carried out by the 
Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) which showed ‘almost half of online display adverts in 2014 were bought through programmatic technologies.’ With UK spend in 2014 doubling that of the previous year at £1bn, growth is expected to continue.

With the growing role of programmatic and the increase in inventory that is being bought on the open exchange, the industry is working hard to establish a common currency for viewability. 

Source: Think with Google

What is a viewable ad?

Viewability is still being defined and the universal methodology for measuring it is yet to be widely agreed and accepted. Although a viewability currency is needed, there are often competing views of what viewability should look like and discrepancies between vendors of viewable impression measurement. Everyone within the industry (advertisers, agencies, publishers and ad tech providers) needs to unite on viewability before this can be effectively rolled out.

With that being said, progress is certainly being made with the implementation of viewability standards testament to this. An impression is considered viewable when it has the opportunity to be seen in the user’s browser. The IAB defines a viewable impression as an ad that meets the following criteria:

  • For display inventory: 50% or more of the creative on screen for a continuous 1 second or more
  • For in-stream video inventory: 50% or more of the creative on screen for a continuous 2 seconds or more

A move towards buying and measuring against viewability is clearly warranted, especially for brand advertisers as they want to be paying for guaranteed impacts and not just a percentage of their campaigns being seen.

Source: IAB UK

Viewability is an important consideration when buying digital media campaigns that deliver positive ROI

For our programmatic display activity bought through our trading desk
Kaizen, we have certainly shifted our focus from served impressions to viewable impressions and have adapted our buying criteria on this basis, bidding for those impressions that have an increased chance of being viewable (higher opportunities to see). Through the use of DoubleClick we have access to Active View viewability data to understand the probability that an impression will be seen by a user. It is this data that we use to optimise our display media buying enabling us to make smarter buying decisions and providing insight and transparency into the potential value of publisher inventory.

We also use viewability data to highlight publishers and networks whose viewability threshold is lower than the industry standard (average publisher viewability is said to be 50.2%) when buying direct deals. We can then work with media owners to try and secure more viewable inventory or introduce ad units for maximum viewability. Trading on viewable impressions is still a way off but is something we always express an interest in when dealing with media owners.

While
viewability has become a priority for us it isn’t an objective in its own right; it is a buying consideration which we add into the optimisation process to maximise performance of our campaign activities. By optimising our bidding with viewability data, clients are able to benefit from the increased response that is trigged by serving more viewable ads.

Creative still counts!

With a lot of the focus on viewability it is important that advertisers and agencies don’t lose sight of the continuing importance of engaging and relevant creative. The need for compelling and action-provoking creative must sit alongside a well-targeted campaign in order to drive success. Whilst an ad may be measured as ‘in-view’, if it is not ‘seen’ or made memorable then it will have the same impact as an unviewable impression. The focus on viewability is potentially putting the onus on publishers to improve to make digital strategies more effective, but the necessary requirements of insight, creativity, positioning and engagement, led by advertisers and agencies, should not be forgotten even in light of the challenge set by viewability.

If you’d like to find out more about our digital display media planning and buying services or our programmatic ad platform, Kaizen, please feel free to
get in touch.