Demystifying Banner Ad and Video Ad Viewability

  • Categories:

    Paid Media

  • Date:

    June 06, 2018

Demystifying Banner Ad and Video Ad Viewability



Paid Media

Ad viewability has become a hot topic in the marketing industry, particularly in relation to digital media transparency and the performance of digital advertising campaigns. 

The following considerations will help you navigate the sometimes sticky, always changing digital media landscape. 

1. What is ad viewability?

Viewability is an online advertising metric designed to track impressions that can be seen or viewed by a person in a meaningful way. 

Digital ad viewability is superior in precision, accountability and flexibility to any other medium, so it’s often at the forefront of viewability discussions. Digital viewability is defined according to the following Media Rating Council (MRC) standards:

  • A standard display ad is deemed viewable if 50 percent of the ad’s pixels are visible in the browser window for one continuous second.
  • A larger display ad (greater than 242,000 pixels) is deemed viewable if 30 percent of the ad’s pixels are visible in the browser window for one continuous second.
  • A video ad is deemed viewable if 50 percent of the ad’s pixels are visible in the browser window for two continuous seconds.

All media, including digital media, can struggle to reach 100 percent viewability. For example:

  • Print ad viewability decreases if magazines are never viewed by the consumer (lost in the mail, thrown away, wrong address, not opened, flipped past, etc.).
  • TV ad viewability decreases if a viewer fast-forwards, leaves the room during the commercial break or channel surfs during commercials.
  • Radio ad “listenability” decreases if the listener decreases or mutes the volume, or if the listener hops stations during commercials. 

2. If digital viewability is superior to other mediums, is multichannel marketing still necessary?

Despite the rapid growth of digital media, this is still very much a multichannel media landscape. Contrary to some claims, people are still watching TV, listening to the radio and reading print magazines. That’s why we design paid media campaigns around real consumer behavior. We incorporate channels where our target audience will be most receptive to the message — and those will not always be digital media. Remember, your media mix should always be based on your unique objectives and target audience.

3. How do media specialists determine viewability benchmarks for digital campaigns?

The United States has the world’s highest average digital viewability rate at 56 percent. A campaign with healthy viewability will typically fall around 70 percent-plus.

It may seem odd that these numbers aren’t closer to 100 percent, but multiple factors can impact viewability, including browser zoom, connection speeds and page lengths. Viewability benchmarks should be determined on a campaign-by-campaign basis, and they will always be dependent on your particular campaign objectives and KPIs.

It’s also possible to only pay for impressions that are viewable. This buying method, known as a Viewable CPM or vCPM, comes at a premium and may not always deliver the best return on investment, depending on your campaign objectives and other parameters. However, you may want to consider the vCPM route if you have high-impact creative for an awareness campaign, where ensuring that the ad is seen is your number one priority. 

4. How is ad viewability measured, and why is measurement so crucial?

Media specialists use specially designed tools to track viewability. At Wray Ward, we use an ad server called DoubleClick Campaign Manager (DCM) to automatically measure viewability in units of viewable/measurable impressions. 

In this system, an impression is deemed measurable if it is served on websites or apps that can be measured. As with other measurement tools, not all impressions are measurable since some factors prevent full data capture.

There are two primary reasons for monitoring viewability:

  • Continuous internal campaign tracking: Once a campaign is live, viewability is one of the metrics used to determine the overall health of the campaign. Other metrics include:
    • Tracking impressions served against brand safety guidelines and flagging unsafe content
    • Monitoring impression delivery to ensure campaigns do not underserve
    • Checking to ensure date-specific placements ran as specified
  • Viewability as an optimization tool: When awareness is an objective, high viewability rates can be determined as an indicator of success. These campaigns place priority on reach and scale rather than campaign engagement or conversion. 

5. Why should people in home and building products marketing pay special attention to viewability?

Many home and building products are big-ticket, high-consideration items, meaning customers travel a longer path-to-purchase. They need time to learn more about the flooring system, window treatments or kitchen appliances they will put in their home, and awareness and brand exposure tactics alone may not be effective. Here, it becomes even more important for your brand or product to get in front of your target audience in such a way that the message will stick. 

6. Besides viewability, what are other important factors to consider for campaign optimization?

As with anything, it’s important not to focus too much on a single metric. We look at viewability — and our ability to measure it — as simply one more tool in our toolbox along with factors like clickthrough rate, delivery rate, impressions and contextual placement.

The following are commonly used metrics to evaluate performance and determine optimizations. Remember, your optimization considerations should be completely dependent on specific campaign objectives and agreed-upon success criteria.

  • Brand awareness
    • Impression delivery and pacing
    • Targeted reach
    • Frequency
    • Volume
    • Percent of impressions in-view (if/where applicable)
  • Consideration
    • Engagement rate
    • Video completion rate
    • Cost per click (CPC) and cost per view
    • Click-through rate (CTR)
    • Time spent with advertisement
    • On-site metrics (bounce rate, time spent, conversions)
  • Purchase intent
    • Conversion rate (a specific action the user takes that indicates intent to purchase)
    • Purchase rate (within e-commerce campaigns)
    • Visitation rate (if utilizing location-based mobile; requires third-party measurements)

We’re dedicated to staying on top of these trends and challenges as digital media technologies and measurement capabilities continue to evolve. If you need help tackling ad viewability, feel free to contact us