Publishers: Cashing in on Ad Viewability Duration


For ten years digital marketing has mandated that if a user stares at a standard display ad for an hour, it has the same impact as if the user had scrolled past the ad while scrolling down a page.

Technology delivering the ads, the ad server, used to just count the number of ad deliveries (impressions) and the number of ad engagements (clicks). Big brand Advertisers traditionally buy ad space based on the reach and frequency of user exposure to ads. This means that new users are valuable (reach) and the number of times they see the ad is valuable (frequency). As the same users see the ad more often, the ability to recall an ad increases and therefore the impact the ad has is greater. In this way marketers can either spend their money to increase the number of new eyeballs seeing the ad or the number of times it is seen by the same eyeballs.

In the last three years ad serving technology has undergone a major transformation in the field of Viewability. Without getting too technical this means that when an ad delivers to the users screen, a stopwatch begins and ends when the ad moves in and then out of view. Publishers which offer users detailed, quality content grab user attention for longer in a fixed space. Any ad alongside that content will get a longer period of time in the users view. The ad space becomes more valuable.

Any frequent flyer of RyanAir or Easyjet can tell you that staring at the same ad for hours on the back of the headrest of the seat in front, plants the ad deeply into the subconscious. This almost eradicates the need for said passenger to be shown the ad again. The passenger complains to the air hostess, “I’ve seen it, its firmly in there” pointing to their head, after an hour in air, “can I get a new ad now or swap seats?”.

Online it is the viewability mechanism which acts as the stopwatch on the Publisher site.It can be set such that ads viewed over a certain period of time can be counted and incremented differently. Publishers can use 3rd party publisher independent reporting of this increment to charge marketers a greater price for ads which have been viewed for a longer duration. Put simply, a column can be added to third party ad server reporting to count viewable impressions where the duration exceeds for example one minute in the active window. As this figure increases, the Publisher can use the ad server reporting as the bill that the Advertiser needs to pay.

Marketers can set those ads aside and count them differently as the campaign is measured, such that ads viewed over a longer duration, equate to a subsidized frequency increment (for example, counting viewable impressions as two impressions each). This would formulate a far more accurate picture of true reach and frequency than just counting individual ad exposures. Publishers that truly grab user attention can expect greater rewards for quality content.

To find out more about making the most of Adserving technology, buy a copy of my book: Ad Serving Technology – Understand the Marketing revelation that commercialized the Internet – available now from..

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