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5 Methods to Improve Ad Viewability


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If you’re a brand marketer, you’ve probably heard buzz about ad viewability in industry publications for a few years. What percentage of ads are viewable, what agencies, publishers and media partners are doing to address low viewability, how it’s reported on, and so on. And while most of us agree it’s a problem, there’s been minimal discussion around how brands are addressing viewability, if at all. In fact, a recent Beckon report found that only 8% of brands are currently tracking viewability as a routine part of media reporting.
If you’re responsible for managing media investments at your organization, this guide is a must-read. It’s packed with quotes, stats, and sample visualizations to help ensure that every dollar spent is driving optimal impact.

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5 Methods to Improve Ad Viewability

  2. 2. There’s been much debate about viewability, and what percentage of global media dollars are wasted on ads that no one ever sees. According to the data in Beckon, average viewability is around 54%, meaning 46 cents of every media dollar is spent on ads that never even reach a consumer. Now, viewability can vary depending on several factors—programmatic or traditionally bought, ad size, country, ad vendor or channel, and so on. Still, given the $550 billion marketers will spend on global advertising and media in 2018 most marketers agree it’s a problem. However, few brands are addressing it. In fact, in our 2017 Marketing Truth or Hype report, Beckon data showed that only 8.5% of brands are even tracking ad viewability, much less acting on it. Improving viewability can boost media ROI, and it’s easier than you might think. According to Beckon data, brands that track viewability alongside their other KPIs and prioritize improvement increased the viewability of their ads by 27.5% in one year! If you’re ready to address viewability head-on, these tips and tricks—collected from leading brands that are optimizing and negotiating their way to better viewability—are a great place to start. To be considered “viewable,” online ads must have 50% of its pixels visible to a viewer for at least one second.
  3. 3. 1 Partner with a respected third party like Moat, IAS, etc. that audits and tracks the viewability of your online display ads. You’ll want to integrate your new viewability data with the rest of your spend and performance data so you can see it all side by side. Pull the data into a marketing intelligence solution like Beckon to see how your ad viewability stacks up. Now that we have an aggregate platform that allows us to bring in data from anything, structured in a meaningful way, we have it, the media agency has it, and there's accountability to that viewability number in real time. We can see what viewability rates are across brands, across either display or video, etc., so we can start to address concerns if the numbers creep up or anything looks alarming. — Jeff Rasp, Director US Consumer Health Digital Strategy at Bayer
  4. 4. 2 Your agencies should also be able to share viewability metrics. Many ad publishers report on viewability, but it’s often left out of the reports shared with brands unless specifically requested. Encourage your agency to include viewability data along with your current performance reports, so that it can becomes part of your routine analysis and optimization. Keep in mind that agencies and brands alike are trying to figure out how to get better viewability from ad publishers, but with transparency and close collaboration, you can diagnose and address low viewability together. In this quick example, we’ve taken a look at viewability rates by campaign, with an industry benchmark overlaid. We can quickly spot low performing campaigns, with significant dips below the industry average. This can spark deeper conversations with partners and further analysis. Look at trends over time, or dig deeper to determine what factors drove low viewability, and then take action.
  5. 5. 3 Ask your agency to negotiate make—goods or credits with publishers where you see low viewability. You’re on solid ground in doing so (remember: you’re paying for it!). Several Beckon clients have successfully recouped investments in low performing ads. Also, consider renegotiating contracts with media partners based on performance benchmarks so if a media partner falls below a predetermined viewability threshold, they’ll be required to deliver additional impressions to make up for low viewability. If a campaign does not achieve the viewability threshold for Measured Impressions, publishers will make good with additional Viewable Impressions until the threshold is met. Such a guarantee ensures that all paid measurable ad impressions will be viewable at a threshold that both exceeds the minimum standard and falls within observed variances. A buyer and a seller should agree on a single measurement vendor ahead of time. The industry aspires to variances of no more than 10% between viewability measures provided by different vendors. — State of Viewability Transaction 2015, IAB We [Campbell’s] chose to only contract with media partners who would contractually agree to deliver 100% of impressions viewed, which was definitely controversial back then. Luckily, we didn't see a big uptick in our CPM because of it. We do pay a fee for it, but we have managed [to limit] the CPM increase. — Marci Raible, VP, Global Media Marketing Services Campbell Soup Company
  6. 6. 4 Once you have viewability data aggregated with performance data in a trusted marketing intelligence platform, you can slice and dice down to various levels of granularity, looking for trends around the ad sizes, placements, types of creative, and publishers that perform best. Industry reports show that interactive ads, mobile ads, video ads, in-app ads, and non-programmatically bought ads generally yield the highest viewability. Unsurprisingly, it’s also been reported that above- the-fold ads are viewed 87% longer than below-the-fold ads, and vertical ad sizes outperform their counterparts. Test to see if these industry trends hold true for your brand, and work with your media partners to adjust strategy as needed. A few stack rankers side-by-side can deliver quick insight into how various factors contribute to high (or low) viewability. In this example, we’ve chosen to rank viewability rate by publisher and ad sizes. In both we can see some big differences in viewability, so then we rolled up both factors in a card showing how performance breaks down by ad size and publisher, over time. This should help with renegotiating terms and requesting make-goods, maybe even optimizing out of those partners.
  7. 7. 5 Viewability is important, but it’s not the only KPI. Be sure you’re also looking at cost per viewed impression and metrics that measure outcomes, such as click-through rates and conversion rates. So long as you know what you are setting out to do, and how you’ll measure success prior to kicking off a campaign or initiative, you’ll see the full impact of your media spend and have a good compass to evaluate what’s working and what to adjust. We have some minimum thresholds for viewability that we put into all of our contracts—some buys written in pen and other buys that are written in pencil. We optimize weekly to understand if performance slowdowns are conversion related or based off of viewability. For e-commerce and direct response marketing, brand impressions are important, but conversions are what really matters so viewability becomes a much more secondary metric. We care about it from a contractual perspective, and we'll track and optimize against it, but conversions and other metrics are more heavily weighted. We'll look at all of those metrics, then decide how to shift media to make sure we're making the most out of our campaigns. — Conrad Bowman, Digital Analytics Manager The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
  8. 8. Though viewability is a hot topic in industry news, measuring and improving ad viewability is actually quite simple for most brands, and can greatly improve the overall ROI of your media buys. Once you’ve established what’s important at your organization and reviewed trends in high and low viewability, work with your media partners to optimize performance together. We’ve found that most organizations have had great success teaming up with agencies and partners to see, understand, and improve performance. But remember, if a partner is crimping performance and making little effort to improve, you can always begin anew with partners who are committed to transparency and driving business growth. LEARN MORE Maximizing the impact of every ad dollar requires closely tracking performance and collaborating with partners to optimize across it all. For more tips and tricks on managing media investments, check out our library of media transparency, agency partnership, and data ownership resources. LET'S CONNECT Get in touch at