Viewability affects every member of the online advertising ecosystem. Now, advertisers can verify whether their ads are being seen, publishers are working on creating viewable inventory, and media vendors are rushing to create solutions that increase viewability.
However, there's still a big learning curve in the industry. In a Spotlight session at the iMedia Agency Summit in Bonita Springs, Florida, Scott Spaulding from Quantcast and Aniq Rahman of Moat provided an unbiased report on the current state of viewability, as learned from years of testing and development.
According to the Media Rating Council (MRC), an ad is considered viewable when 50 percent of its pixels are displayed on screen for one second or more. According to Spaulding, reaching 100 percent viewability is a highly improbable advertising goal. Based on a recent Quantcast audit of all 13 accredited viewability providers (one of which is Moat), Spaulding noted that average viewability on exchanges tends to be in the 30-50 percent range. Quantcast also found that:
- "Above the fold" is a poor proxy for viewability, as viewability rates for above-the-fold inventory vary widely across exchanges.
- There is a limited supply of high-viewability inventory. In fact, inventory with viewability above 75 percent represents less than 5 percent of all RTB inventory.
- Higher viewability is typically more expensive on exchanges. In fact, exchange inventory with viewability above 75 percent can be up to two times as expensive as inventory that is between 25-50 percent viewable.
Particularly in light of the last above point, Spaulding noted that optimal campaign performance in open exchanges is achieved around a 55-65 percent viewability rate when accounting cost effectiveness.
Optimizing toward viewability tends to drive better results -- more conversions and customers, as well as higher brand lift, Spaulding said. However, Moat's Rahman pointed out that viewable impressions alone are not the answer. "Knowing an impression is viewable doesn't mean it was effective," he said. He recommends advertisers begin with viewability, and then move toward additional metrics including exposure time and interactivity.
"Viewability is important, but it's really just opening the conversation for a lot of other things to pay attention to," Rahman said. "Attention is the real currency of brand advertising."