Do you know exactly how many people are viewing your online ads? No? Well, it’s sad to say that it’s probably a lot fewer people than you think. In fact, a study by Google found that more than half (56.1%) of online display ad impressions are not seen by consumers. This means that you may have effectively been throwing your digital ad money away.
Impressions versus viewability
Advertisers have traditionally used impressions as a metric to measure ad performance. Yet many of these impressions result from page visits in which the visitor never actually sees the ads, either because they’re displayed too low, or worse — the impression is down to a bot.
The way around this is to embrace ad viewability - which looks at whether an ad is actually in view to readers on publishers’ websites. Advertisers that embrace ad viewability over impressions will learn which placements are worth the investment.
Above-the-fold (ATF) impressions, for example, do not promise ad viewability. In fact, less than half of ATF impressions are actually viewable, due to the fact that: Many visitors start scrolling down as soon as they visit a page and see top ads for less than a second, and ad vendors self-categorize what constitutes “above” and “below” the fold, which can persuade clients into over-paying for a less-than-suitable placement.
So, what can advertisers do to make sure their ads get seen?
It is worth remembering that viewability is still in its infancy; there are discrepancies between how the various vendors measure it; how we should look at these findings and how they should be applied to improve campaign performance.
Over time, the challenges will iron themselves out as we work towards a more standardized solution, but in the meantime, there are steps you can take to ensure that you are optimizing your ad campaigns.
The first step is to research the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s “Making Measurement Make Sense” initiative. The initiative is working to redefine the way brands measure digital media with viewable impressions. The new guidelines state that 50% of a display ad’s pixels must be viewable for at least one continuous second in order for the ad to be counted as an impression – and two seconds for video ads.
It is also important to hold your ad vendors and publishers accountable to viewability standards by agreeing on a viewability percentage, measurement goals, and a method for resolving discrepancies.
Another suggestion is to direct your marketing budget toward higher-quality ad placements that have a better chance of being seen and influencing customer purchasing decisions.