“Media gets the consumer to water, but it can’t make it drink.” This sentiment, from a blog post on Digital MindChange, helps illustrate part of the reason why the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) is pushing for advertisers to change from “servable impressions” to more measurable “viewable impressions.” Just because an ad is in view on a webpage doesn’t mean that is actually was viewed by the target audience, a distinction that make a difference for both conversions and costs to advertisers. Tracking engagements as a percent of impressions is a key variable eBrains uses to determine quality of the publisher and/or the quality of the targeting which led to an ad placement. Viewability of those impressions, then, has to be factored in.
According to the Media Rating Council, a display ad is considered viewable if at least half of the ad’s pixels are in view for a minimum of one second. A recent infographic from Google gave five factors that can influence an ad’s viewability:
(1) State of publisher viewability: A small number of publishers are serving most of the non-viewable impressions
(2) Page position: The most viewed position is not at the top of the page, but instead is right above the fold, which is the part of a webpage that is visible without scrolling down.
(3) Ad size: Ads that are vertical can stay on the page longer when you scroll, and the dimensions with the highest viewability rate (percent of ads determined viewable out of the total number of ads measured) are 120X240 (55.6%), 240X400 (54.9%), and 160×600 (53.7%), suggesting that vertical ads are better for viewability.
(4) Above the fold does not mean an ad is always viewable: Not all ads (68%) above-the-fold impressions are viewable, while many (40%) of below- the-fold impressions are
(5) Viewability varies across industries: Regardless of the industry, content that can hold the user’s interest has the highest viewability
Google’s research and the “5 Factors for Viewability” provide important information that can help advertisers reach their target consumers. There is really no point in advertising if you cannot get viewable impressions and conversions, which is why the IAB focuses on how often an ad is viewed instead of how often the ad is served.
The infographic provides eight industries and the corresponding viewability rate. Advertisements for the “Hobbies and Leisure” industry, which would encompass travel and tourism, have the lowest viewability rate (44.8%). This study and others like it indicate you may want to consider solutions with guaranteed engagements such as eBrains offers, where we assume all of the risk at the impression level. Furthermore, independent research proves that quality engagements lead to conversions for our clients at profitable rates. For your next CPM buy, however, you may want to negotiate rates that take viewability into account because impressions may not be all they are tracked up to be.