Scoring the best placement on a page for your ad is key, but whether that ad is ever viewed, despite its placement, is ultimately more important. In other words, if someone doesn't see your ad, then what good is a prime location? And if the ad isn't seen, it can't be engaged with.
An ad served in a premium location -- above the fold -- may never be seen by a user under a variety of circumstances. When users open their browsers, or leave them open in the background, tabs, navigation layers, and application windows can block their view. Other factors, including page load vs. ad load time and varying browser window sizes can also get in the way. In order to determine whether an ad is actually "viewed," additional elements must come into consideration.
Only by taking these elements into account does it become possible to measure "true impressions," or cases in which an ad was actually seen rather than when the ad call just fired. Consequently, data around whether ads are in view, as opposed to simpler metrics focused on location, is becoming more valuable.
One key thing to note is that this data must incorporate information concerning web browsers, monitor sizes, screen resolutions, ad size, placement, and even the context of the page the ad is being served on in order to accurately paint the complete ad-in-view picture. The latest technology is capable of taking all of these elements into account in measuring varying levels of user engagement. Particularly within the auction space, where every impression has a value that can be heavily influenced by the "viewability" of an ad, this data can help predict the probability of the ad being in view when the page loads. It can also predict whether the ad will scroll into view, how long it will stay in view, and even if it will be in view when the user leaves the page. This helps bring greater effectiveness to RTB, enabling better informed media buying decisions.
Getting back to location for a moment -- ads may actually be viewed in a more contextually relevant environment below the fold. And when users are scrolling down a page, they are likely actively focused on and engaging with that page, eliminating some of the obstructive elements previously mentioned. With the ability to take all of these variables into account, simple above- or below-the-fold terminology is gradually becoming outdated for modeling ad effectiveness. Now it's factors like whether an ad scrolls into view and how long it then remains in view that help better evaluate an impression's potential to convert.
Given all of the above, ad-in-view metrics clearly add value to yet another key dimension of online display advertising -- attribution measurement. The best way to ensure proper attribution around the value of your online branding is by highlighting how many users actually see your ad and how much potential there is for them to engage with it. How do you determine accurate attribution against your ad campaign if you only know where your ad was located and not whether it was actually seen and engaged with? It's now possible to determine, in real time, the probability of achieving "true impressions," as well as the amount of time your ad is in view. And doing so directly increases the accuracy of measuring your overall campaign effectiveness.
David Hahn is senior vice president, product management, at AdSafe Media.
On Twitter? Follow Hahn at @davidbretthahn. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.