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ComScore study suggests nearly half of online display ads are unviewed

Pro­fes­sion­als hold­ing media jobs in the inter­net adver­tis­ing indus­try were a lit­tle flum­moxed last year when Com­Score pub­lished research show­ing that almost a third of online dis­play ads (31 per cent) nev­er got viewed. But the job­bing busi­ness devel­op­ment man­ag­er may need to reach for the aspirins again fol­low­ing new­er research by the company’s Val­i­dat­ed Cam­paigns Essen­tials (VCE) ser­vice, which sug­gests that the fig­ure is actu­al­ly more like 46 per cent.

A busi­ness devel­op­ment manager’s headache?

VCE clients include 22 of the top 25 adver­tis­ers in the U.S., amongst them Kel­logg Co. and Proc­tor & Gam­ble. ComScore’s Chair­man, Gian Ful­go­ni believes that the new fig­ure has been depressed by a change in the ser­vice: it’s broad­ened its data track­ing to include “low­er tier” sites as well as the usu­al blue-chip adver­tis­ers and pre­mi­um pub­lish­ers. At the low­er end of the spec­trum, he says, in-view rates drop to well below 50 per cent.

As any busi­ness devel­op­ment man­ag­er or search engine mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ist can tell you, viewa­bil­i­ty counts. Aaron Fet­ters, direc­tor of Kellogg’s Insights and Ana­lyt­ics Solu­tions Cen­ter, told Ad Age that when ad viewa­bil­i­ty improved by 40 per cent, online adver­tis­ing sales improved by 75 per cent.

Cur­ing the headache – ditch unview­able ads

Last year, Fetter’s team began to use real-time ad viewa­bil­i­ty data and it helped them make some very benef­i­cent changes: they worked with Star­com Medi­aVest Group and ditched the ads web­site vis­i­tors nev­er saw (“rough­ly half”, Fet­ter says). Kellogg’s brands have seen a major improve­ment in ROI as a result, with some see­ing five­fold and six­fold increas­es in dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing ROI in under two years of work­ing with VCE.

As he puts it, “If you can’t be view­able, then there’s no point wor­ry­ing about any­thing else.”

But how did Kel­logg get a big­ger hike in online adver­tis­ing sales than in viewa­bil­i­ty? Ful­go­ni believes that elim­i­nat­ing non-view­able ads means more of the cam­paign ends up on pre­mi­um con­tent sites, dri­ving sales upwards as a result.

In case you’re won­der­ing, ads are classed as view­able by Com­Score if 50 per cent of their pix­els are seen by a site vis­i­tor for at least half a sec­ond. It might not be the most punc­til­ious of yard­sticks, but both the Media Rat­ing Coun­cil and Mak­ing Mea­sure­ment Make Sense ini­tia­tive accept it.

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