As viewability falls, it’s time for the industry to stand up and be counted

With over £600 million being wasted on non-viewable ads in 2016, Collective’s Paul Lowrey say its time to put relevance and value first

Last year started with encouraging news on ad viewability from Meetrics. In the first quarter (Q1) of 2016, the number of online banner ads served that met the IAB and Media Ratings Council’s recommendation that 50% of the ad was in view for at least 1 second had risen to 54%.

Sadly, the figures failed to improve across the year with Q4 statistics revealing that only 49% of ads adhered to the required criteria. This was the same figure as Q3 and marginally up on Q2’s 47%. This is disappointing but the real shock comes when you consider that this equates to over £600 million wasted on non-viewable ads across last year. A lot of these are likely to be non-measureable versus non-viewable but it certainly has the potential to damage our industry’s reputation among those who matter most – our brand clients.

“Despite the ongoing attention and initiatives focused on addressing viewability, things just aren’t really improving,” commented Anant Joshi, Meetrics’ Director of International Business on release of the research. “Yes, you can argue viewability has stabilised over the last couple of quarters and is marginally up on six months ago, but the reality is that viewability levels are lower than a year ago and over half of ads served still aren’t viewable.”

Clearly this situation can’t continue. We can argue that viewability doesn’t directly provide a measurement or insight into campaign effectiveness, but the reality is that if ads aren’t being seen, they can’t be effective.

In a rush to get their ads seen and deliver impact, advertisers and agencies can miss the fact that impact alone is not going to engage an audience. Without strategic relevance, advertising interrupts and intrudes, which can damage brand reputation and fuel ad-blocking. And of course, consumers won’t watch it. Even if they do, they won’t be engaged, and although the ad may fulfil the necessary viewability criteria, it won’t be effective.

As an industry, we all have a responsibility to improve the way brands communicate with consumers, and the use of audience data and relevant frequency capping will need to play a more prominent role in this process.

A greater understanding of creating relevant brand content for the right screen and audience that’s distributed in a non-invasive manner will be key to delivering viewability and engagement.

Ultimately, it will be the creative impact of what’s viewable on the page that will arguably have the greatest effect on campaign effectiveness – and, essentially, that comes down to the quality of the user experience.

The latest IPA Bellwether figures show internet advertising spend rising by 12.1% during Q4 2016. To maintain this momentum we need to act now.