Viewability Just The Beginning Of Ad Efficacy Conversation

A week ago, when Cadreon’s Erica Schmidt spoke at the Interactive Advertising Bureau programmatic event, I was interested in what she had to say on the science behind the Media Rating Council (MRC) viewability standards (available here).

The IPG Media Lab partnered with Integral Ad Science and Cadreon to conduct the study, which had the goal of quantifying the relationship between viewability and brand metrics. Why is that relationship important? Because, in an industry plagued by fraudulent impressions and bots, there's a huge need for dialogue that furthers understanding on how to make the most of an investment.

Viewability, or the metric that counts ads that are viewed, can be mistaken for the be-all and end-all of advertising metrics. But viewability isn't the end of the conversation about effective advertising; it's the beginning. Once something is viewable, targeting and creative strategy can take center stage and lead to a conversion, lead generation, etc.



This comment from Sherrill Mane, SVP-research, analytics and measurement at the IAB, sums it up nicely. “Viewability does not guarantee that an ad will be looked at, or that an ad will be appealing, or have an impact or generate awareness or change brand perception,” Mane told AdExchanger last year.

The report from Cadreon echoes that sentiment, saying in its conclusion that the intention of the MRC standards was not to guarantee ad effectiveness, but to ensure ads have the opportunity to be seen. The report also noted that while the MRC standard is not a "magical threshold for ad effectiveness," viewability is still highly related to ad effectiveness -- after all, as viewability increases, so do consumer attention and ad recall.

So I kept that in mind when Schmidt presented the findings from the study (see it in full here). 

First, she said, use video ads and prioritize ad spaces where audio is likely to be on. (The study found having audio on provides a 175% lift in recall for ads that fall under the MRC standard.) Second, logo placement at the top of an ad has greater efficacy.

Third, she said, aim for ad spaces  less likely to be cluttered with other ads. “When we’re talking about premium and good quality inventory, there’s inherently less clutter on that page,” Schmidt said.

And fourth, place ads where they’re likely to be viewed for a longer period of time, regardless of their percent in view. The ad community has placed a lot of importance on how many pixels of the ad are in view at any given time, the report said, but what really drives consumer attention is the time that they have to see the ad in the first place. 

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