Everyone, Even Google, Has a Viewability Problem

Google released a new study this week that found that 56.1% of all impressions served on its display platforms -- including Google and DoubleClick -- are not viewable.

It needs to be clarified that the numbers are not just from Google’s own network. The report includes data from all DoubleClick users, who may simply be using Google as an ad tech provider (i.e. not buying Google’s inventory). “This is based on a very significant sample size, not just on our own network,” a Google representative said.

Google, for what it’s worth, has not been dormant on the issue. It has offered viewability-based buying on its display network since last year while advocating for viewability to become a common currency. Additionally, it introduced its own viewability reporting to DoubleClick this summer.



Even still, not everyone was happy to see the figures in Google’s latest report.

“You’re [Google], the biggest ad tech player in the world,” an ad tech industry exec proclaimed. “You should be better than the market. People expect more.”

Finger-pointing aside, the purpose of the report was to set a benchmark, per Google. One of the more intriguing benchmarks set came from Google’s study of above- and below-the-fold inventory.

The report found that above-the-fold inventory was viewable 68% of the time, compared to 40% for below-the-fold inventory. Google concluded that “page position isn’t always the best indicator of viewability,” as “not all above-the-fold impressions are viewable, while many below-the-fold impressions are." Many tend to view above-the-fold inventory as a Holy Grail of sorts while scoffing at below-the-fold impressions, but this report indicates the gap -- at least in terms of viewability -- is closer than people believe.

Google also notes that “a small number of publishers are serving most of the non-viewable impressions.” This is supported by the fact that the publisher viewability average is 50.2%, while only 43.9% of all impressions were viewable.

Even though the industry already knew digital advertising had a huge viewability problem, Google's report is a bit of a downer for any that were hoping to see improvements on the viewability front. “This report flat out says 56% of inventory is wasteful,” an industry expert said. “Any advertiser should stop [and ask question].”

3 comments about "Everyone, Even Google, Has a Viewability Problem".
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  1. michael Kaushansky from Havas Helia, December 4, 2014 at 1:15 p.m.

    Obviously a non-viewable impression cannot possibly have an impact on a consumer, a 60% non-view Ads means that your CPM for online media actually costs more than DOUBLE. A $10 / CPM is actaully $20+ / CPM to ensure the Ad is seen for 1 second with only 50% being vieawable

  2. Alyssa Stone from Integral Ad Science, December 5, 2014 at 1:04 a.m.

    Instead of feeling defeated, advertisers and agencies should use this knowledge to their advantage and optimize for viewability. There are companies such as Integral Ad Science, DoubleVerify, and Moat that offer third party data, which savvy marketers use to make informed decisions on media buys. Take control and buy inventory on sites and exchanges that perform. Be privy to the information that is available to you. At Integral, for example, we not only provide insight into viewability metrics, but ad fraud protection and brand safety as well.

  3. jack Brown from BDAI, December 5, 2014 at 11 a.m.

    Completely agree with Michael and applaud his attention to ROI. This is exactly why BDAI partnered with DMA Institute to bring Best Of Breed European Big Data Artificial Intelligence Technology to North America. DMA Institute's proprietary technology delivers Transparent Actionable Data in Real Time. This gives our clients the Viewability / Power to adjust their Ad Buy during the campaign improving ROI by up 60 +%.
    To see a completely transparent daily picture of your campaign you need the following data that BDAI deliverers.
    • Time that ads are "in view" by a consumer.
    • Ability to ascertain quality (>5 seconds in view) and premium (>10 seconds in view)
    placements for maximum buy efficiency.
    • Which websites ad placements were viewed (includes xchanges where this data is not
    readily available).
    • Which IAB formats are performing best - relative to other parts of the campaign.
    • Proper assignment of CREDIT for which ad WORKS best… not simply consumer's
    last touch.
    • Ability to run unlimited tags without degradation of site performance.
    • Ability to apply a consumer panel poll to secondarily validate digital outcomes
    • Ability to overlay customer-file analytics (determined with PRIZM data).
    • Provide insight into both the psychographic and demographic profile of visitors.

    BDAI is the most cost effective way to run a programmatic campaign. If you are not partnered with BDAI you are wasting TIME & MONEY. Don't waste another minute or dollar Schedule your demo today. Many Agencies, Brands and Publishers are glad they did.

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