Commentary

Quit Wasting Ad Spend: 3 Ways to Improve Ad Viewability And Strengthen The Digital Ecosystem

More than half of all impressions are never seen by humans, resulting in millions wasted on ad spend. There are several potential reasons for this -- a user leaves a page before the one-second mark, the ad is below the fold, or, more commonly, non-human traffic is driving up impression counts.

While advances in digital ad targeting through personalized messages have improved ROI, and accurate attribution of clicks and conversions across devices has helped ROI measurement, ad viewability remains an issue.

With the amount of programmatically accessed inventory growing, and brands continuing to adopt this method of buying impressions, marketers are increasingly concerned about ads that are paid for but never seen across devices.

Even the IAB realizes that 100% viewability is not yet feasible, and is encouraging publishers to make good with additional impressions until an interim 70% threshold is met.

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Regardless of benchmarks or measurement practices, there are several tactics that can be taken to improve mobile, and therefore cross-device, viewability for the programmatic industry:

1. Cut down on fraudulent ad impressions. 

According to a study from the Association of National Advertisers and WhiteOps, advertisers stand to lose $6.3 billion globally to bots this year, not just on desktop, but also on mobile.

As an industry, we need to do everything we can to reduce fraudulent impressions across devices and stifle those selling them.

Google found that a small number of publishers are serving most of the non-viewable impressions. For marketers to see a true picture of how their ads are being seen by consumers across devices, they should work with trusted publishers, or with networks and exchanges that have partnered with industry-leading measurement vendors. There are currently 15 Media Ratings Council Accredited Viewable Display Impression and/or Ad Verification Vendors, which are capable of measuring viewability on digital campaigns.  There are strengths and weaknesses with each product across devices, so using a measurement solution alone is not a complete solution. 

2. Weed out poor page design. 

As viewability measurement solutions across devices expand, and RTB platforms and exchanges optimize towards viewable impressions, programmatic solutions will automatically start spending more on highly viewable inventory.

Advertising dollars will naturally flow towards publishers that improve and maximize viewability, which in turn drive marketers’ campaign goals. Smart mobile publishers will optimize their pages and inventory as they realize the effect of good design on monetization.

Effectively, publishers will be encouraged to improve campaign performance and ROI for marketers across devices, which will benefit the entire digital marketing industry.

3.Understand below-the-fold and specific ad sizes and locations. 

Below-the-fold ads get a bad rep, but there can indeed be “gold below the fold.” Not all below-the-fold ads go unviewed, and they could be even more desirable if a user scrolls past a banner ad and title to view an article’s content lower on the page.

Though “below-the-fold” doesn’t always exist in mobile apps, viewability issues on the mobile web are amplified, especially on sites that aren’t mobile optimized. By improving viewability across devices, improvements in performance will follow, including on video and interstitial formats that already see strong engagement rates.

An expertise in cross-device bidding and optimization, as well as the ability to accurately attribute conversion events both across devices and offline, are critical for any programmatic technology solution to be able to optimize towards viewable impressions.

Though 100% viewability may not be achievable in the near future, every player in the industry should be involved in improving the state of viewability by measuring viewability across devices, optimizing towards viewable impressions across devices, and promoting new standards for ad sizes and page layouts.

What do you think? What else can we do to maximize cross-device viewability today?

3 comments about "Quit Wasting Ad Spend: 3 Ways to Improve Ad Viewability And Strengthen The Digital Ecosystem ".
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  1. Jonathan Kriner from TVision Insights, April 13, 2015 at 12:02 p.m.

    Good suggestions! I would also mention pre-bid targeting for media quality.  Great way to improve viewability and decrease fraud. 

  2. Celia Wu from The 614 Group, April 13, 2015 at 1:36 p.m.

    Great insights.  For more research on viewability, folks can read The 614 Group's Viewability Vendor Study white paper and recent survey here:  http://www.614group.com/library/.

  3. Leslie Moon from Ad-Juster, Inc,, April 15, 2015 at 7:34 a.m.

    All good practical points.  The IAB publishes supported and deprecated ad sizes. 

    Ad-Juster can help with #1.  We can track and report on viewability pixels for viewability vendors, ensuring that your viewability strategy is in place, while isolating where it's not.

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