Visibility, Viewability and Brand Performance

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Wouldn’t it be great if ad networks could always sell you ads that actually got seen? They do now, but more on that later. Let’s start with some context.

Definitions are important when discussing viewability, and a lot of work has been put in by publishers, tech vendors and the IAB to get consensus on what the right definition should be.

The agreed definition, backed and held up by the IAB, is that a viewable impression is one that is at least 50% visible, for one second or longer.

Beyond an ad simply being ‘below the fold’, there can be a number of good reasons why an impression might not classified as visible.

For example; if someone has a slow internet connection they might have browsed on to the next page before your ad has had a chance to load. There are also other, less legitimate reasons for this to occur too, which is why it’s important to work with trusted suppliers and have the right tools in place to help them help you.

A recent report from Google stated that 56.1% of all impressions served internationally aren’t actually seen by users.

Fortunately Australian sites do much better than the norm with both placement and performance buys typically delivering 70-80% impressions that are viewable.

Though better, it’s not great, particularly if you are buying impressions. So getting visibility of viewability is important.

If you don’t already, make sure that any campaigns you run are tracked using a third party adserver which tracks visibility. DoubleClick Campaign Manager for example, has a great set of visibility reports included as standard.

Beyond making sure that you’ve gotten what you’ve paid for, ad visibility tracking can shed light on how well placed you are on a site or network. Letting you work with the publisher to ensure that they give you prime position, and better results.

You might also want to consider using viewable click through and conversion rates in your reporting, particularly for performance publishers.

Why? Every campaign needs a way to measure creative engagement, even if the number of clicks or leads is guaranteed because of your media buy.

Using clicks or conversions versus viewable impressions will show you what portion of people seeing your ad engaged or converted. This might not matter to you as long as you get the clicks or leads, but if you want to understand how engaged that site or networks audience is, this is the metric that will tell you.

Alternately, you could just buy viewable impressions. A range of performance publishers already offer this buy type, albeit at a premium rate. Even Google is in on the game with Google Display Network letting self serve users buy on viewable cost per thousand basis. Just remember to keep an eye on performance with your own third party measurement to make sure they deliver.

We often find that simply letting premium publisher’s know you’ll be keeping an eye on visibility can magically prevent your ads being relegated to the bottom of the page. Don’t be afraid to given feedback on the quality of the inventory early and often, after all, they themselves might not have visibility of their own viewability. 

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