Viant 2015 Analysis: Viewability Rates Hardly Budge

Despite all those nasty words and industry mea culpas,  only 46% of digital ads were  “viewable” in 2015, about the same as the year before, reports the cloud-based ad tech firm Viant in its version of the year that was, out today.

The viewability rate is worst for exchange networks, where only 39% were viewable, up (but hardly) from 38%  in 2014. 

Major media brands--CBS, CNN and so on--did best, with a 71% viewability rate, averaged out over the year compared to 67% a year ago.

But the Viant data, compiled from data tabulated by Vindico, its ad serving platform,  says in Q4 of 2015, viewability at big media sites sunk to that same lower 67% average. 

Internet brands’ viewability was at 50%, rallying from 45% earlier in the year.

Viant, acquired by Time Inc. earlier this month, says in its report that video completion rates rose to 81% from 78% the year before. Again, major media led with 92%. The bad news is that the “viewable completion rate” --that is, the percentage of all ads that were both viewable and viewed to completion--was at a paltry 37%, just like the year before. And the average video ad click rate tumbled to 0.43% from 0.62 the year before.

Optimistically, the Viant report says “those steep declines in click rates of video ads may be seen as a maturity of the ad platform, where most advertisers recognize online video ads as more appropriate for branding objectives as opposed to direct response.”

The data was compiled through Vindico ad server data estimates that Viant says are “based on tens of billions of annual impressions” placed by agencies and advertisers last year.

Other interesting bullet points:

--The .30 second digital ad is back. A year ago, Viant noted that .15 second ads overtook the 30s, but in 2014, the “sizes” were about equal (overall, 15s lead slightly, making up 51%) but on major media, the 30s ruled, with 53% of the total.

--This isn’t necessarily a trend to applaud; Viant notes that overall, shorter .15 ads have a 85% completion rate. The ones twice as long have only a 77% completion likelihood.

--Not at all surprising, OTT and game console devices boast the highest completion rate--98% this report says. But completion rates rose everywhere, most markedly with smartphone users, with a 76% completion rate, up from 61% the year before.

--That’s a good thing, because the share of impressions that Viant’s advertisers served onto computer devices went from 88% of Viant’s total delivery in 2014 to 79% in 2015r. The big gainers, to the surprise of nobody, were OTT devices where impressions grew “six-fold,” which still only means it gathered in 3% of the total. But look at those smartphones and tablets, which attracted 18% of the total, up 59% from a year ago.

The report contains some interesting stats, particularly a chart of click-through, completion rates and viewable percentage broken down by advertising categories. I’d bet automotive and financial service businesses would be a little surprised to see the very low viewability rates their ads get.

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