With tradtional media like billboards or TV ads, it's taken for granted that your advert can actually be seen by consumers. However, in the world of online advertising you definitely cannot rely on your ads being visible.
Here we describe some of the big problems with "viewability" in the digital advertising market today. Only advertising with FairView can solve these problems in a clear-cut and verifiable way.
The viewability of ads is extremely poor
You can tell how serious this problem is when Google themselves state that "56% of online display ads are not seen by consumers." To address these concerns, the IAB introduced a standard for viewability of a “minimum of 50 percent of an ad’s pixels are in view for a minimum of 1 second." Please ignore this section if you're happy wasting half your budget on ads which can't be seen at all or satisfied that a 'good' result is where just half the ad is visible for 1 second.
Viewability Demo Video
The purpose of this video is to show how low the industry's standard quality threshold for digital adverts is.
In the video to the right, there is a simulation of a laptop screen as a user surfs the web. The user will scroll down and open new tabs in real time.
The 'web pages' contain digital adverts of various standard sizes. Each different advert has a different colour.
The adverts have been carefully placed and timed so that every one of them satisfies the standard for viewability.
All of the dummy adverts you see in this video would have been classified as viewable and the advertiser would have been charged for them. For a realistic demonstration, please view the video full-screen (click the square box control which appears in the bottom right corner when the video starts).
See what kind of impression you can make on a consumer with a viewable banner ad.
The scripts injected to monitor viewability take extra time to download and can be computing intensive. This damages the user experience, making web pages slower and less responsive, draining batteries and data plans. The problem is particularly acute on mobile devices.
Above the fold (ATF) / below the fold (BTF)
One of the few controls available to advertisers to help them address the viewability failings is the ATF/BTF categorization of ad inventory. Ad slots are identified before auctions as ATF or BTF with the latter having much lower average viewability. However this is a crude and imperfect measure, even ads placed ATF are often not viewable for various reasons:
- Users leave a page immediately after it has loaded.
- Users scroll down away from the top of the page immediately, before the ad has loaded.
- Some ad sizes are only partially viewable. This is particularly true for tall ads like the 'Skyscrapers', 'Half Page' and 'Portrait' ad sizes.
All these issues disappear with FairView ads:
- If a user leaves a page immediately, you don't pay for the ad.
- Scrolling down the page has no effect on our ads.
- We never show only part of an ad, the entire creative is in view, always.
How can viewability statistics be used?
Knowing that over half of ads are not viewable should induce ad buyers to lower their average bid price. This creates a classic example of the 'lemon effect', in which buyers pay too much for unviewable ads (lemons) which are in fact worth nothing and too little for viewable ads. Whenever this effect occurs in a market, damaging consequences follow. Most importantly, publishers with higher quality, viewable inventory will leave the market as they cannot get a fair price in the auction. This in turn will lower the average quality of inventory in the market, causing more sellers to leave and so on. This vicious cycle is inevitable in a market where buyers cannot trust the quality of what they're buying.
Where do the sellers of high quality inventory go? They look to sell in a different market structure in which they will get a fair price. In the digital advertising market this might be private, invitation-only auctions or direct private placements with advertisers.
So what can you do to combat this problem? If you could reliably measure the viewability on individual websites (which you can't), you could bid higher for ads on sites with better viewability. However, this approach creates a new set of problems due to the lack of data. To accurately estimate viewability for every page that sells ad inventory, would require enormous amounts of data. Plus the viewability statistics for a website will change over time, so constant recalculation would be needed. All of this requires a lot of expert manual optimization - and hence cost.
Unique technology advantage
Because of the technology in the FairView browser extension we can detect the following events with complete reliability:
- Browser window gone out of focus i.e. user has clicked on another window
- User's screen has locked / screen saver has started
- Page has been resized
- Page has been zoomed in or out
- User has switched tabs in the browser
- User has closed tab in the browser
- User has closed browser window
- User is inactive i.e. no mouse, scroll or keyboard activity
Whenever any of these events make an ad unviewable, we immediately suspend the ad display timer and then restart it when the ad comes back in view in an active window.
Remarkably, we can even maintain the exact size and relative position of the ads despite a user changing the zoom or resizing the browser. All of this without disrupting the content of the web page.
Truly accurate data
We record the details of all ad impressions including the exact period over which they were viewable. So you get information that is unheard of in the traditional digital advertising market. The depth and accuracy of the data about each advert shown to consumers is truly ground-breaking. Giving you the security of knowing that your advertising budget is being efficiently spent and the worst aspects of the digital advertising marketplace have been avoided.
You should consider viewability to be an absolute minimum requirement. However some ad networks only offer "guaranteed viewability" for an extra fee. At FairView we measure the exact viewability of every ad. If any ad was not viewable for any reason, you don't pay for it.
Ditch the spend-and-hope strategy so many advertisers are forced to use. With FairView, viewability is guaranteed.