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Valuable Impressions – Are you paying for ads which aren’t seen?

By: MarketingJul 24, 2017

The IAB has released a whitepaper revealing trends in trading on viewable impressions across European markets. The below information is an extract from its whitepaper looking into the importance of viewability as a way of measurement.




Viewability, which is about the 'opportunity to see' rather than engagement or ad effectiveness, sets the baseline for measuring advertising efficiency. As a result, defining and understanding viewability it is essential for all other aspects of campaign success.


A drive towards quality is at the roots of the new initiative to measure and report on viewable impressions. The lowering or even elimination of risk of over-counting ad impressions that were served out of view on the user’s screen, perhaps below the screen fold, or maybe served on an out of view browser tab is the essence of the matter. Additionally, lowering or eliminating the increasing risk of over counting caused by non-human traffic (NHT) that has contributed to an accelerated pace of development across our industry.


The importance of viewability as a qualitative performance measure can be assessed in the context of various factors, and viewed in relation to other metrics. When assessing the prospects of success for an online campaign these may include:


  1. The quality of the environment
  2. The quality of the media product
  3. The quality of the campaign
  4. The quality of the delivery


The quality of the environment is shaped by various criteria, such as the relevance of the content, the placing and proportion of content versus advertising positions, user loyalty, credibility, how topical it is, level of professionalism for example. The publisher is ultimately responsible for creating the environment according to these criteria.


The quality of media products is a result of the dimensions, the multimedia capabilities, and the functionality of advertising formats, as well as the environments and the target groups which can be reached. Publishers and sales houses offer a wide spectrum of premium products with a number of creative brand advertising possibilities and placements and so almost all possible combinations can be achieved.


The campaign in itself is also a decisive factor in the success of the campaign. As a BVDW / IAB Germany study (The Power of Creation14) has shown, the design of a campaign is 50% of the cause for establishing eye contact, and 30% of the cause of viewing time.


The delivery of the campaign must ensure that the campaign also reaches the intended target groups. Proof of delivery in technical terms is given by a standardised count of advertising contacts, the ‘ad impressions’. Alongside this quantitative figure, qualitative measurements are being increasingly used to assess a campaign. The measurement of the viewability of an advertising format is one of the most significant of these. The report advises that advertisers should continue to be billed based on the number of served impressions during a campaign, and further instructs that these should be separated into two categories: measured and non-measured.


Randall Rothenberg, IAB, president and CEO, US said: “The MRC said it best – 100% is currently unreasonable. Why? Because, different ad units, browsers, ad placements, vendors, and measurement methodologies yield wildly different viewability numbers.” 


Download our Media Quality Whitepaper to learn the best practice tips on how to protect your brand online through programmatic advertising, looking in detail at Ad Fraud, Brand Safety and Viewability.

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