62% of Canadian display impressions are viewable: study

New research from Eyereturn Marketing's Ian Hewetson identifies a correlation between site quality and viewability.
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A study of nearly 300 million display impressions by demand-side platform Eyereturn Marketing found that 62% of those impressions had the opportunity to be seen by users.

Eyereturn’s study also found a correlation between site quality and better viewability and measurability, Ian Hewetson, VP client services at Eyereturn told the IAB X-series: Metrics conference on Thursday.

The firm analyzed the millions of impressions during the month of October, using a measurement method known as geometric (which only measures an ad found in iframes that share the same domain as the page it is hosted on). It used that method since it is well-established and standardized across several vendors, and as a result was able to measure only 47% of those impressions. Of those, 62% were viewable based on the IAB standard of 50% of pixels of an ad being visible for one second.

That viewability rate for Canadian impressions is slightly higher than global numbers. For example, Google released results from its measurement tool Active View this week which show only 44% of ads it measured were actually viewed, going by the US-based Media Ratings Council’s standards – which is also 50% of pixels being visible for one second.  

Online measurement has been a hot topic for the industry since the summer, when the MRC gave the go-ahead to the industry to transact and measure on viewable impressions and put forth guidelines. However, discrepancies remain in standards applied by even MRC-certified vendors, Hewetson says.

“You cannot really, to this day, define what viewability is, or measure it accurately at any kind of scale.”

Hewetson had four pieces of advice for media buyers, vendors and publishers entering into viewability-based agreements:

  • Put all the details in the contract, including which party’s impression numbers will prevail.
  • Choose a partner who can report on multiple dimensions of viewability, including fraudulent sites, domain spoofing and non-human traffic.
  • Take a hard look at viewability numbers and know which ones are coming from measurable inventory.
  • Ask yourself if it’s time to increase the amount you are willing to pay for a CPM to receive quality inventory.

Hewetson says his firm’s research also found that higher CPMs result in more measurable inventory and better viewability, noting that buying low-cost CPMs do not deliver at their price if the buyer does not know if they are fraudulent, out of view or unmeasurable. He equates it to buying a box with 10 items in it for $5 without knowing what’s inside the box compared with paying more to know what you’re getting.

Where publishers are transparently identified, whether the buys are direct, or programmatic, measurability and viewability are both generally higher, he says.

“This transparent inventory may cost more money but it’s probably worth it,” he said. “It pays off in conversion costs becoming more accurate, which is a key driver. Transparency also helps you avoid fraud.”