It’s only been a year since the IAB called for an industry-wide shift from metrics for impressions served to viewable impressions — meaning that the ad should be counted only if it loads properly, in a space the user can see. If advertisers value click-throughs, those are out of the question if the ads they’re trying to serve aren’t visible.
While outmoded, clicks present an easily quantifiable metric. They can help gauge the path from an ad served to an actual purchase, or from the ad to another point in the consumer’s process of researching a purchase. But ads are ubiquitous in the digital world, and click-throughs are rare. Yet digital ads offer genuine depth and breadth of information for consumers, not to mention that they can be a powerful means of branding. As ingrained as digital media is in consumers’ daily lives, we need to consider digital advertising holistically, not as a strict point A-to-point B path, because branding is still very important vehicle for any company that wants to showcase the quality, credibility and experience it delivers.
We need think more about ads in digital media the way we think about ads in broadcast media. The KPIs in digital advertising are subjective and particular to each campaign, and digital can be a powerful means of communicating branding and other goals traditionally valued by broadcast. As such, we need to think less about clicks, and more about the amount of time the consumer spends with an ad. No matter where an ad loads on a page, is it next to the content your target audience most values? Is the ad out of sight as soon as your target consumer hits the scroll bar, or does it remain in view? And most importantly, how much time does it spend in your target’s eyesight – and are they interacting with it? And what does that time mean for the brand and for the publisher?
Viewability is important, but viewability is not a simple “yes or no” question. Time viewing advertising is a more valuable factor to consider than mere presence. Time spent with the ad and the content adjacent to it should be the metric both brands and publishers consider. Time can afford us “off the charts” potential for engagement and branding, and it can help the publisher understand the value of all their inventory, as it helps the brand understand where and when its audience is most engaged. Let’s strike up a new conversation about metrics and viewability, one that captures the full value of digital brand advertising.