If you’re running an online advertising campaign, chances are you’re paying attention to the viewability of your ads – or how much of your ad is seen and for how long. Since the Media Ratings Council released its standards for viewable impressions in 2014, publishers and marketers alike have made viewability a key factor when planning, buying, and analyzing a digital campaign.

Measuring viewability is important for ensuring your ads are being delivered in-view and on active, non-fraudulent websites. But it’s important to remember that viewability does not guarantee that someone actually noticed your ad or that including viewability in your media plan will result in brand lift. In fact, an online study conducted by IPG Media Lab, Integral Ad Science, and Cadreon delved into the connection between viewability and ad effectiveness and while the research found that consumer attention and ad recall did increase as viewability increased, it also found that ads that did not meet the MRC’s viewability standards showed a stronger impact on recall than some ads that met or exceeded those same viewability requirements. Additionally, it was seen that time in view proved to have a stronger correlation to ad recall than percent in view.

This research should be considered when using viewability as a metric on display and video campaigns, especially since viewable impressions come at a cost.  Many media buyers and publishers have come to use viewability (cost per viewable impression) as currency in their online media plans, with the notion being that you’ll only pay for your ad if it’s seen. Additionally, many advertisers and buyers are seeking above-standard viewability rates of 70, 80, or 90%, which garner premium pricing. But such high levels of viewability are scare, and can potentially limit a campaign’s reach.

So how do we ensure our ads are seen, reach a large audience, and that we don’t overpay for impressions? Based on the findings from the "Putting Science Behind the Standards" study, there are certain tactics we can employ when developing the creative and targeting to better control for viewability in online campaigns.

Place the Logo at the Top of the Ad

According to the study, ads that had the logo placed at the top saw a greater lift in ad recall compared to ads that did not have the logo at the top.

Understand the Content and Ad Environment

It’s important to understand where your ads will be placed and what content will be around them. Seek out placements and sites that resonate with your brand or product. According to the report “Familiarity, Frequency and Fine Lines”, based on a study by Research Now, ads served on sites whose content is unrelated to the advertised product or service resulted in a more negative response from consumers.

Think about Time

Focus on placements where your ads are more likely to be viewed longer, such as out-stream video and email. Additionally, seek out webpages that offer a greater share of view, as ad and message recall was shown to increase when share of view was higher.

Focus on Frequency

How many times a user sees your ad has just as much of an impact on performance as how much of your ad is seen. An eye-tracking study by Mediative found that multiple exposures to an ad resulted in more clicks.

REMEMBER: Viewability should remain an important component to any digital campaign, but it should never be used as the key metric to measure performance against or optimize toward.