How much better are above the fold impressions than below the fold, you ask? Judging by price paid, advertisers think they are 11% better, but viewable impressions have to yet truly separate themselves in a real-time bidding (RTB) environment as the cream of the crop compared to those dreaded below the fold impressions.
In Europe, click-through rates for above the fold inventory grew 15% from Q2 to Q3 of this year. That's actually less than the click-through rate growth for below the fold inventory (16%). The data comes from Adform's RTB Trend Report Europe Q3 2013.
What does that say about the quality of inventory? Well, both numbers are up, so that means it's still improving, but it surprises me that click-through rates for below the fold inventory grew at a higher rate than above the fold.
To me, that might suggest a few things. First and foremost, it makes me wonder if advertisers truly know when their ads are placed above the fold. Click-through rates for above the fold impressions are twice as high as their below the fold counterparts, so there are diminish returns at play here, but why pay just 11% more if the click-through rates are twice as high?
Maybe I'm missing something, but that doesn't make sense to me. Are advertisers not paying more because they don't have to? But then that would mean publishers are missing out on potential revenue. No matter how it's spun, these numbers make me think a lot of blind trading is happening.
Sure, goals might be being met, but do advertisers truly know how and why those goals are met? Could they be set higher? Perhaps that's what these click rate and price figures are telling us.
"The CPM gap between above-the-fold and below-the-fold continues to narrow," Adform writes in their report. Marketers paid 17% more in Q3 for below the fold impressions and just 9% more for above the fold. I've gone on record a few times saying I don't believe RTB stands for a race to the bottom, but this data doesn't do much to support that thought.