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Viewability: Is it the right metric for your marketing campaigns?

Digital advertising platforms can roll out the right content to the right demographic at the right time. However, are they really the golden ticket? According to recent research by comScore, 54% of advertising delivered goes unseen. Marketers are wasting a huge amount of their media budget on ads that did not have the opportunity to be seen.

Why are so many ads going unnoticed?  Vendors often claim higher engagement rates even when some ads are buried low down on web pages or run in tiny, easily ignored video players. Marketers don’t always realise this is happening because different vendors measure success using different metrics.

To overcome this, Susan Bidel, senior analyst, Forrester, believes that viewability will become the standard for brand-focused display advertising. According to the recently published IAB standards, viewability measures whether an ad was served where the user had the opportunity to view and is defined as 50% of the ad unit being in the user’s viewable screen for at least one second.

However, moving from an impression served to an impressions viewable currency is a big step that impacts media planning, vendor selection and attribution modelling.  The below three steps will help you get started on implementing this viewability standard:


  1. 1. Understand how viewability is measured:  The most widely used measurement method - the geometric method - uses the position of the ad unit relative to the browser window to discern whether an ad is viewable.  So for example, if an ad banner is placed at the top of a Web page but a viewer has scrolled down to the bottom – the ad will not be in-view and therefore does not engage.


  1. 2. 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.


  1. 3. Planning is the key: A great place to start using viewability as a standard measurement is to factor it into any upcoming media plan and then discuss the results with the measurement provider and media buying partners.  Also, ensure your programmatic marketing software provider can integrate or partner with the best in the market ahead of time. If you do this you will be provided the highest levels of impression quality for each media buy.


With a move to advertisers only paying for adverts that are seen, we are at the beginning of a huge shift in online advertising. Trading on viewable impressions can increase the effectiveness of advertising campaigns as you’ll definitively know that your ad has been seen by your desired audience.