We’ve got thoughts
The Fine Print of 100 Percent Viewability
// Brooke Bobe - August 12, 2015

There’s no arguing that viewability is one of the hottest topics in the media industry right now. But is the industry really ready for the 100 percent viewability guarantee? Or, is this a way to simply appease FOMO* and join the “in crowd? *FOMO is the fear of missing out, made popular by the Millennial generation.

Ad Viewability InfographicLet’s talk about what’s right, what’s best, and what’s feasible. We at Pinsight love the concept of 100 percent viewability. Our director of product even got in on the Twitter conversation during MediaPost’s OMMA in NYC a few months ago, tweeting his support for 100 percent viewability because it instinctively makes sense. After all, doesn’t it feel right to pay only for ads that are seen?

Viewability is more complicated than gut feelings and instincts. The fact is that technology has yet to catch up with the preferences of us media folks, making guarantees more elusive than they are practical. The lack of industry standardization also shows how unrealistic this expectation is within the industry. Let’s face it: 100 percent viewability could certainly be the best practice and the right solution, but it’s not yet technically feasible.

The Fine Print

One hundred percent viewability can often come with fine print. There are a few companies that have stepped up to make the claim of offering that very guarantee. A word of caution is to always read the fine print. These are typically for in-app ads and only apply to banners and interstitials. These ad units generally have high viewability rates anyway. Does this mean that advertisers are really getting more than they were before? Unlikely.

The Technical Challenges

People move fast. It takes, on average, six seconds to scroll from top to the bottom of the phone. So if a user is scrolling at lightning-fast speed, the ad may not have time to properly load; it will be off the page before it hits the one-second measurement. A similar result occurs with ad placements between photos or content in either a carousel or slideshow. Wireless connectivity can also impact the display of rich media ad units. When users browse through a largely text-based app or site, the streaming video or rich media content may not load when a user browses past the ad placement.

Tips to Improve Viewability

Media buyers, I encourage you to work with publishers and supply-side partners (SSPs) that have a quality assurance team who carefully inspects ad placement during integration. Otherwise, you run the risk of having slightly off-screen placements or ads that are not optimized for viewability.

Publishers, carefully think through your user flow or work with a monetization partner who will help you do this. App design can influence user behavior and time spent on the page. If, for example, the design encourages users to quickly navigate between tabs or sections, reassess the ad placement strategy. Consider implementing a persistent banner that recycles across activities. What does this mean? In simple terms, it means the same banner would appear in the homepage and the change section without initiating a new ad request. This improves CTR and viewability rates without impacting the experience.

Viewability will no doubt continue to be a hot item as we near peak buying season. Enter with caution: if 100 percent viewability seems too good to be true, it probably is at this time. The allure of it is gaining more momentum than the rate at which the technology can evolve. So remember to read the fine print, think practically and ask the right questions about integrations and user flow.

About Brooke Bobe
Brooke leads our ad operations team. With more than 12 years of experience in mobile product development, Brooke has deep experience on both the advertising and publisher sides of the business. This hybrid knowledge gives Brooke unique insight to develop relationships with our publishers and demand partners. She is also responsible for publisher sales and publisher integration. Brooke holds a BS from the University of Colorado in Boulder and MBA from the University of Missouri – Kansas City.