Lately, every digital marketing newsletter I open or article I read seems to focus on or at least mention the newest term du jour: viewability.
For those who perhaps have seen the term but aren't sure of its meaning, viewability is a digital advertising metric that tracks impressions actually seen by users. To be "viewable," 50% of an ad has to be visible for at least one second.
From advertisers and publishers to the ad-tech community, the interest in this metric has skyrocketed in the past two years. Just look at the term’s Google Interest score to see the dramatic rise.
With the rapid increase in news and noise on viewability, inevitably, myths arise. Several of these have made their way into articles, blog posts, and even speaker panels. Let me set them right because these myths might otherwise send you down the wrong path and prevent you as a marketer/advertiser from fully maximizing your digital and mobile display performance.
Myth #1: Above The Fold Means 100% Viewability
A 2014 Google/Doubleclick study showed that median viewability for above-the-fold units was only 68%. This is happening because of a couple of factors: One, users are more frequently “quick scrolling,” bypassing above-the-fold units very quickly, and, two, with long page scrolls, publishers often use links to drive users to specific sections on a Web page.
Myth #2: Viewability Is A New Concept And Metric
The term viewability has been around a few years now, but the concept of looking for more and better ways to price, buy, and measure digital media has been a topic of conversation for more than 15 years. Viewability was not the first measurement methodology, and it won’t be the last. As an advertiser, you need to look at the deeper meaning behind why these concepts are so popular, and you’ll get greater insight into the latest in online and mobile behavior--how users scroll, read, and navigate--that you can use to inform digital creative, content, and media planning.
Myth #3: All Your Ads Should Be Seen All The Time
While 100% viewability may seem like the ideal to shoot for, it's not. Don’t set that expectation. Even the IAB tells you to think realistically: "The advertising industry should recognize that 2015 is a year of transition. Technology and billing systems have to catch up to this massive move to greater accountability in advertising measurement and delivery," the IAB's position paper says. It recommends not applying a standard stricter than 70%.
While the debate around the importance of viewability rages on, I recommend focusing your energies on the following:
1. A multichannel mix (digital, mobile, search, social) where viewability is not of primary importance.
2. Pay attention to online user behavior trends and align/adapt your creative and content in the context of those trends. This will always be a win-win.
3. Don't be concerned when your presence is below the fold. In fact, this great graphic from Chartsource, “Where We Spend Time Reading,” underscores this point.
And that's the smart view of viewability!