Ad Viewability and the Social Solution


No one wants to pay for ads that aren’t seen by real people. Social channels are working to ensure that people-based advertising efficiently allocates media dollars and makes a legitimate impact on your business. By partnering with third-party verification companies, the leading digital platforms are working to consistently meet industry-wide standards and ensure that brands are cutting down on wasted impressions and wasted budgets.

Industry Standards

Ad viewability is important in order to verify that ad budgets are producing real value in real time. Viewability is a metric used in digital advertising to track ad impressions that are actually seen by the audiences that their ads are being served to. For years, marketers and publishers have disagreed on sufficient standards, costs and the value of viewability, making it a popular point of contention in the industry.In recent years, independent organizations have established standards and benchmarks that marketers activating on digital must achieve.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) defines a viewable impression as one that is at least 50 percent visible for at least one second. However, ad vendors use a variety of methods to establish whether impressions meet these standards. The Media Ratings Council (MRC) also uses a similar standard of “50 percent of pixels in-focus” with a one second viewing time minimum. They establish visibility rate as “percentage of ads deemed viewable” divided by “total number of ads measured.” However, with the rise of ad fraud, especially on particularly vulnerable advertising channels, brands can experience less than optimal campaign results. Some media planners are transacting on viewability — meaning they have coined a deal with a publisher to pay only for viewable impressions — but the MRC advises that that it is too early for marketers to do so.


Frustrations and Fraud

Lack of ad viewability frustrates marketers. Ad fraud is a problem facing the industry that will cost brands upwards of $16 billion globally this year alone; that number amounts to one-fifth of total digital ad spend in 2016. Bots, poor ad placements and ad fraud waste media dollars, and with a majority of digital ad campaigns being purchased using programmatic, the risk only increases. Because programmatic is automated, it is at a higher risk for fraud. Programmatic abides by the mentality of of maximizing reach at all costs, which can put ad quality at risk. It is also highly susceptible to ad fraud, devalues ad inventory, and often leads to inefficient measurement metrics for ad performance. Viewability is an important metric for marketers to achieve in order to make sure that their ad dollars are being properly allocated, but fraudulent activity can cause brands to experience less than optimal campaign results.


Social as a Solution

Social platforms offer brands peace of mind when it comes to viewability and ad verification. Digital platforms want to maintain marketers’ trust, and have adopted a collection of resources and initiatives to ensure that marketer’s budgets are being distributed properly. Instagram and Twitter have been shutting down fake accounts and bots. Social channels have sophisticated targeting capabilities and data that allows them to reach actual identifiable users unlike cookie-based or IP address-based targeting. In addition, social channels have been bringing third-party measurement groups on board to provide transparency in order to establish ad effectiveness and verify the viewability of ads served through their APIs.

Ad formats, such as in-feed autoplay videos, are being readily adopted to increase engagement, viewability, and view rates. Videos that automatically play when a user arrives on a page ensures that the ads are viewable and meet the industry’s viewability standards. Twitter even shifted its position and promised advertisers 100% viewability for their autoplay video ads. In order to achieve brand goals such as video completes, consumers must first actually see an ad. If impressions are wasted due to poor placements, fraudulent activity and ad blocking, your brand cannot achieve other strategic goals. Achieving high levels of viewability requires strategic planning. Context matters, and marketers must properly execute media plans by understanding how consumers engage with different ad formats and placement according to the setting consumers will be served ads. Viewability is an essential metric for brands trying to reach their target audiences, and marketers need reassurance that their budgets aren’t being wasted. Fortunately, social activation provides marketers with the opportunity to verify ad viewability and metrics. Social platforms skirt ad blocking, cut down on poor ad placements and formats, and have been investing in resources to curb ad fraud and provide brands with the best opportunity to achieve their target goals and maximize their budgets.