With more and more dollars being spent in Digital mediums, there has been increased talk around a resolution on how to combat viewability with advertisers tired of paying for ads that no one sees. We wrote about the issue this summer in a popular post called The V Word. In the coming months, Google promises to make advertisers only pay for ads that are 100% viewable through their Google Display Network (GDN). All advertisers that have been buying GDN ads on a CPM (Cost-Per-Thousand Impressions) basis will be transitioned to a viewable CPM (vCPM) pricing. The IAB reports that an impression is considered viewable if 50% of the pixels or ad is in view for a minimum of one second. That timing increases to two seconds for Desktop video when 50% is in view as well. Although this may not seem like a long time, this is the standard that most publishers and media partners are held to as measurement and technology continue to evolve.
In a December 2014 study, Google reported that 56.1% of all impressions served have not been viewed by users. This was a huge realization to advertisers and is likely due to the fact that the ad never had a chance to viewed because they were below-the-fold, scrolled out of view, or in a background tab. With that said, even if the Ad is above-the-fold, it still may not have been viewed as Google reports a 68% viewability rate, with a 40% rate below-the-fold.
Google has not been the first adopters of this standard, with companies such as Millennial Media (recently purchased by AOL) and Facebook promising 100% in-view ads. All will continue to push the industry forward and utilize advertiser’s dollars in a place where they can actually have an impact. If the ad is not viewed, then the advertiser is never charged for that impression. In Google’s case, viewability will be measured by Google’s Active View technology within their display network. In tests that they ran, Google found that viewable ads saw conversion rates improve by as much as 50%. Those exact ads drove a brand lift of 10.3%, while non-viewable ads didn’t contribute at all. This shows that the impact of this this standard is real.
This will most likely make sense for all advertisers interested in maximizing ad views, rather than by click. The vCPM bidding strategy will allow them to reach this goal better than other bid strategies, but will not be available for all ad types including search only campaigns, or campaigns that include ads targeting mobile apps.
Looking into the future, it will be interesting to see what other media partners adopt this policy in order to drive quality impressions for advertisers and be held more accountable for what is served. This should also move sites away from placing as many Ads as possible on a page, which in-turn will create a better user experience for all. It was once said that 100% viewability wasn’t possible, but that benchmark has been reached and will now be the standard for all media partners to be held to.