How to meet advertiser viewability demands

04/06 By Paul Astbury

Publishers are well placed to provide not only high quality advertising environments, but also meet advertiser calls for viewable inventory as we move closer to trading on viewability.  While some advertisers are in the process of defining their own viewability KPI’s, whether that be 50% in view for at least 2 seconds, or 70% in view for at least 3 seconds; publishers can make sure they’re ready to deal with the demands from advertisers and are able to forecast what inventory to deliver to advertisers with these specific requirements.

Here are some pointers for how publishers can dramatically improve their overall website viewability score.

Ad Position

Publishers know their content and audience, and should know where ads perform the best on their site.  It’s worth experimenting and continually testing different ad positions to identify the premium positions to deliver the best ad viewability.

  • Try running ads wrapped around the content; as contextually relevant ads that are placed next to premium, engaging content are more likely to drive better viewability rates.
  • Some advertisers are averse to booking ad positions at the bottom of the page because they believe them not to be seen.  This is an opportunity for publishers to ensure that engaging content is positioned all over the site, including bottom of the page; for example by having any sign up or call to action instructions, or access to similar content. This would turn these ad units into best performers in some contexts.

Ad Size

The common misconception is that the Leaderboard format delivers the best results. Our research shows that users returning to a site, or familiar with a website layout, often scroll quickly to content they are looking for, meaning the Leaderboard isn’t seen.

Units like Skyscraper’s and Super Skyscrapers are some of the best performing formats. Our latest Q4 Media Quality Report reveals that the Double MPU achieved the highest in-view rate, at 57.7% in view, followed closely by Skyscrapers with a viewability rate of 57.3% in view.

IAB’s larger Rising Star ad formats, especially with the minimum standard of 30% in-view rate, performs better for publishers.  The Q4 Media Quality Report found 51.7% of Billboard ads were viewable, and 46.5% of Portrait ads were viewable during Q4 2015.

Ad Formats

A commonly used format nowadays is the sticky unit, which scrolls with the user for a few seconds to ensure high viewability for this unit. Although potentially intrusive, it drives viewability rates.

Creative load times

One of the big issues hitting publishers is resolving discrepancies; heavy creative assets impacts on viewability scores. Measures publishers can consider to help advertisers:

  • Producing A/B testing results on campaigns – one with lightweight creative and one with heavy – will demonstrate the detrimental impact on viewability times to advertisers
  • An advertiser who demands high viewability metrics should be restricted on creative weight size for their campaigns
  • Introduce restrictions on mobile creative when issues are not only limited to campaign viewability, but are related to data usage and user experience.

Page Load Times

A large number of ads on the page and additional tags, slow down page load times – leading to poor viewability rates. Removing ads with poor viewability rates will not only reduce ad clutter rates (an advertiser KPI) but will also help speed up both page and ad creative load times.

Quality content

It’s fairly obvious: quality content, will drive better viewability rates. Ensure the editorial team understand the importance of ad viewability; and that by running better-performing ad units next to the content, it potentially lessens the number of ads on the page.

Better understand your inventory

It’s crucial to fully understand your site’s inventory. There are lots of ways to use custom variables to analyse viewability.  The Pub Expert platform allows three custom variables (alongside six standard ones) for publishers to segment viewability data.

  • Compare subscribed users’ viewability against non-subscribed users. Since subscribed users mostly drive higher viewability rates, this data can be presented to advertisers to help drive higher CPMs
  • Use a viewport variable to test how a responsive site is impacting on viewability.
  • Does the MPU on tablet work better than desktop
  • How does geo impact viewability?

In summary, collaborate with all parts of your business: look beyond standard viewability measurements and seek out areas of the site with the greatest dwell time; have a flexible website design team with a choice of highly viewable units; and brief the editorial team on ad viewability.

Smoother internal operations can ultimately lead to a better user experience.  These measures will enable publishers to package inventory more effectively to appeal to advertisers looking at brand exposure as well as viewability.