The online ad industry is facing some push-back. Marketers are increasingly insisting they should only pay for ads that actually appear on users’ screens, as opposed to parts of Web pages people never see. They want their ads to be “viewable” — a not unreasonable request.
That demand is perhaps most important in relation to video, because of the high prices video ad inventory continues to command relative to other formats such as banners.
However, according to data from online ad giant Google, only about half of video ads across the Web are actually viewable.
Throughout April, the company collected data from its various video-related ad products and platforms — including its widely used ad server DoubleClick — and determined that just 54% of video ads across the Web are viewable.
That rate didn’t include YouTube ads, which were 91% viewable, the company said. That discrepancy could be because YouTube is a video destination, whereas some websites place video ads next to other types of content or at the bottom of their pages.
For the purpose of the study, Google used the viewability definition set forth by the Media Rating Council and the IAB, which declares an ad viewable only if 50% of its pixels are visible on the screen for at least two consecutive seconds.
While publishers can’t guarantee Web users will watch every ad, marketers argue they should only have to pay when ads could potentially be seen.
So why aren’t they being seen? Usually because they’re playing in the background while users look at something else, Google said. Of non-viewable ads analyzed by the company, 76% were in a background tab or never on-screen at all, while the remaining 24% were scrolled off-screen or abandoned in fewer than two seconds.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Google found viewability rates were higher on mobile devices and tablets than on desktop computers. The company also concluded that smaller video players exhibited the lowest viewability rates. Just 20% of video ads that appeared in 300 x 250 pixel players were deemed viewable, for example.
“Advertisers seeking viewable impressions should look at high viewability sites that engage in best practices for video viewability,” Google advised. “In general, advertisers should consider investing their spend in inventory comprised of larger video ad sizes to enhance viewability.”
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