The importance of mobile viewability

Éva Szántai

Director, Product & Technology

Last year’s most argued topic was the viewability of advertisements. Why? Because after viewability measurements were evolved and standards were established, skeletons began to fall out of the closet:

it was clear that on an average rate half of the advertisements are not seen, so a great part of the banners never appear for real users during the campaign. This frightened everybody: the advertisers realized, only half of the online and mobile surfaces bought in the last few years were visible, and the media-owners because their vendible inventory suddenly decreased to the half.

What can be called a visible advertisement?

An ad falls to the viewable category on desktop if 50% of the ad’s pixels are visible in the browser window for a continuous 1 second. It works like this in practice. We had to wait a long time until the definition of viewability was created for mobile platforms, and it finally happened in May 2015. Surprisingly it is the same as the web version. But this does not solve everything: people behave on mobile devices differently, they rotate it, they scroll through a page faster, but the biggest problem is that the rules are not differential for native ads and variant sized banners.

How could you miss an ad impression?

There could be more reasons for that. For example, if the ad serving zone is built in the wrong place on the site. Thus the ad is loaded in the bottom of the site, the user will never scroll down until there, or at least not until its significant part. Another common mistake is when the banner cannot be loaded. If the user’s internet speed is not fast enough or the creative is too big, it could occur that only the zone, serving the impression is loaded, but the banner itself not. A third reason is the „hitch”, when the user scrolls away or navigates away from the site too quickly. In this case the banner appears, but couldn’t fulfil the definition, namely it is not seen for one whole continuous second.

What are the obstacles of measuring viewability?

Several complicating factors should be counted when it comes to measuring viewability. From a technical aspect measuring HTML banners could be quiet problematic. If the ad appears in iframe on the serving page then none of the bigger, better known viewability companies could measure it. The other technical question comes from differences between measuring methods. Officially only those companies are allowed to offer viewability measuring services, which are accredited by the MRC, and only a few got this certain certification. We at Madhouse have tested several to investigate their viewability services. Unfortunately, we had to experience that the companies’ results in the same campaign, on the same banner are completely different. While with one code the viewable appearance was 40%, with another it was 80%. This shows clearly that the perfect and reliable solution is not ready yet. Currently we work together with Moat, who is a pioneer on the viewability metrics’ market.

The foreseeable future

We see a growing tendency among international participants that besides measuring the viewability rates they also try to benefit from the results:

  • 100% visibility

More and more advertisers ask the question: why should they buy non-visible ads? The market has reacted to this request and a few companies started to offer 100% visible products to their clients. In fact, this solution means that the campaign runs until the viewable appearances reach the ordered amount. Depending on the platform, in such a way twice as much AV could be served, despite there is no real 100% solution, only the proportional increase of appearances.

  • Viewable impression

In many DSPs VI (viewable impression) is available for purchase, and the campaigns could be optimized according to that. It means higher prices, but one has to pay only for the viewable impressions. This is linked to the above mentioned 100% visibility, because here also more AVs are served, than the ordered.

  • Cost per hour

One of the most interesting initiatives in this case is implementing CPH, the cost per hour payment. Instead of the CPM or CPC settlement the publisher sells visible time, regardless to the quantity of the appearance. This way the ad appears on the screen for minutes, allowing a deeper involvement, furthermore similar campaigns achieved better brand awareness and reminiscence.

Viewability could reform the whole online advertising industry if we learn how to use it consciously. But what is certainly clear: mobile viewability would be one of the most burning topics on professional forums in the next 1-2 years, and it also has to be considered during serving campaigns.

In the end I would like to ask a rhetorical question: how – if anyhow – does digital viewability affect the offline advertising mediums’ viewablity concept?
February 25, 2016
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