Over the last year or so the attention on viewable digital ads has been growing and recently hit a point where it is now considered a standard metric to include in all digital campaigns. There has been so much talk, in fact, that associations like Media Ratings Council have developed, which provides vendors with accreditation to offer reliable viewability measurements.

So what exactly is a viewable ad and why is it important? Sizmek, an ad-serving and tracking solution, defines Average Viewable Surface Area as, “The average percentage of ad surface area that was viewable. Calculation: Average Viewable Surface Area = Sum of total surface area percentage / total surface area count."

Basically, it’s the amount of surface area of an ad unit that is viewable on the screen. Impressions served below the fold or at the bottom of the page and off screen would not be considered viewable impressions. With the increasing shift to network and now to programmatic impressions, it is important to keep tabs on viewability to make sure that your impressions are being seen.

What makes tracking viewable impressions so important? Keeping all media partners accountable for what they are serving helps buyers and planners to make decisions of where to optimize, which ultimately will boost performance. It also provides great insight into what you are actually buying and how it is being served.

What can be tracked and measured in terms of viewability? At the moment, ad server Sizmek has over 30 metrics associated with its viewability metrics package. It even offers a benchmark metric from the IAB for what they consider to be the standard for viewable impressions:

The industry standard as developed under the leadership of the Media Rating Council (MRC) calls for desktop display ads to be considered viewable if 50% of their pixels are in view for a minimum of one second and for desktop video that standard is 50% for 2 seconds. In addition, the standard stipulates that for larger desktop ad units, 30% of pixels in view for 1 second constitutes a Viewable ad.  Custom ad units and important elements of sponsorships are not consistently measurable today. The measurement standard and the technology are still evolving.

Sizmek offers metrics like Viewable Impressions, Viewable Surface Area, Viewable Impression Rates, Viewable Impression Costs, Viewable Duration, Cost per Viewable Second, etc. While each individual metric has merit on its own and should be used to analyze parts of a campaign, the real power of tracking Viewability comes when taking a comprehensive look at the campaign as a whole. For example, does an increase in Viewable Duration drive a greater amount of conversions?

It’s also important to note that Viewability is an important measurement to layer on top of existing metrics, and not to replace them. This should help everyone involved in buying, planning and analyzing campaigns to make better, more insightful decisions on what is driving your campaigns goals.