What is Ad Viewability?

What is Ad Viewability?

If you work in digital ad sales, you’ve probably heard increasing demand from advertisers for ad viewability metrics. This new trend has the potential to change the ad publication landscape in a big way.

However, even with all of the recent chatter, who really understands what ad viewability means and how it works?

Well, here are the facts about ad viewability and why it’s escalating so quickly for brands and publishers alike.

What is Ad Viewability?

Ad viewability describes how easily an ad can be seen by the average Internet user. Ads that can only be seen when you scroll down to the bottom of the web page, for example, have very low viewability – few people ever actually see them.

Advertisers are very interested in viewability as a metric because it points to spend efficiency for digital advertising. It is also becoming increasingly important for publishers to be able to prove the value of their ad placements.

Is this a big deal? Absolutely. Some estimates say that up to 54% of online ads aren’t viewable at all, which means a whole lot of marketers out there are paying for ads that aren’t being seen by anyone. It’s no wonder that looking at viewability is causing a lot of ruckus in the industry, and this in turn is directly affecting the future plans of publishers.

Make no mistake though, some publishers are already embracing the trend – including Conde Nast and Tribune Media.

Ad Standards

Of course the big question is how to define ad viewability in the first place. Currently the IAB classifies it as “viewable impressions.”

An ad is only viewable if it is at least 50 percent visible for at least one second. It’s not the cleanest definition and it has proven difficult to measure with current analytical tools, so take this with a grain of salt…maybe even a whole shaker.

Expect this standardization model to change and morph in the next couple years: The end result may look very different, which is why the Media Ratings Council is advising everyone to hold off on basing transactions on viewability just yet.

Cons to Viewability

Publisher cons should be easy to spot when it comes to ad viewability. At the least, this cuts down publisher ad space inventory (possibly by as much as half), taking away a significant amount of potential profit.

At the worst, it will lead to outright hostility from brands and advertisers as publishers try to hold onto old models or strive to push more ads up to the top of an already crowded website.

Pros to Viewability

On the plus side, viewability promises to bring plenty of new accountability to publishers. Expect a rise in innovation and transparency thanks to viewability metrics.

Publishers will have to work harder to define the value of ad space, which will lead to more accuracy throughout the industry with an increased focus on alternative, imaginative ads.

A bonus for growing publishers is that viewability and audience insights will likely promote a more balanced price structure for ad inventory that better represents the digital world as it exists today.

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