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.