Viewability: mobile is better than desktop, direct is better than automated

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 2 April 2015

Ads served programmatically through trading desks have decreased viewability compared with ads served directly through publishers, according to a new study.

The report also found that online ads with greater interactivity are more likely to be 'viewed', and that mobile ads are more viewable than their counterparts on desktops.

The report, by Independent ad server Sizmek, covers January to December 2014, and analysed viewable data from more than 240 billion measured impressions, from more than 840,000 ads and 120,000 campaigns served in 74 countries to more than 22,000 publishers and 43 programmatic partners.

Viewability is one of the biggest challenges facing publishers, with the IAB trialling measures both in the US and Australia to get a better understanding of what counts as an ad being 'viewed'.

The measures that the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) came up with mean that online display ads are counted as 'viewed' if they have been on screen for at least one second and were at least 50% loaded. Video ads are likely to be counted as 'viewed' if they played for two seconds.

Alex White, VP of product strategy at Sizmek, said: “The specifics and definitions will no doubt continue to be debated, but the recent efforts at standardising viewability terminology move the industry toward a more transparent marketplace for digital ads, and our research backs that up.

“Clearly, measuring whether an ad is viewable gives the industry a starting point for trading in true engagement.”

In December last year Google found that more than half (56.1%) of all digital impressions of online ads are not seen.

The search giant found that a small number of publishers were serving most of the non-viewable impressions, causing the numbers to be skewed slightly higher. This means that overall 56.1% of all impressions are not seen, however the average publisher viewability sits at 50.2%.

CEO of the IAB in Australia Alice Manners told AdNews at the time that IAB Australia supports the move towards viewability and is in the process of working with agencies and publishers to educate the market on the measure.

“Everyone agrees that the move towards viewable impressions is the right thing for the industry,” Manners said. “There are still technical challenges around it and reasonable expectations should be set in monitoring impressions.”

The IMAAG group, which is a merger of IAB's Agency Advisory Board and the MFA's Interactive Committee, is currently in the process of developing a code of conduct which will focus on fraudulent traffic, viewability and verification.


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