Viewability and ad effectiveness: what publishers need to know

10/13 By IAS Team

The concept of when an ad should be counted as “viewable,” which levels of viewability have an impact on users (and to what extent), and how to pay for these varying levels has been hotly debated in the digital ecosystem.

Viewability may sound like an arbitrary metric, or just something that’s better than nothing, but in reality it’s one piece of a very large puzzle. Advertisers want to make sure their money was well spent and that they drove real results with their digital ads.

While we know that viewability is important – after all, if the ad doesn’t have the chance to be seen, then that’s truly a wasted impression – we had yet to see the scientific correlation with actual ad effectiveness measures. That’s why we partnered with the IPG Media Lab and Cadreon to conduct a large-scale scientific research study, to quantify the relationship between viewability and brand metrics. This research also investigated other optimization scenarios that could help elevate the impact of ads at lower levels of viewability. Although the study is not meant to rewrite existing standards, it serves as a guide to advertisers and publishers alike regarding how best to make ads more effective given viewability standards. You can access the full report here. Here are the key insights we gleamed:

Viewability is highly related to ad effectiveness. As viewability increases, so does consumer attention and ad recall.


Time in-view is king. When it comes to moving the dial on ad effectiveness, the number of pixels in-view is not the driving factor. It’s how long consumers see the ad.


What actions should you take?

  • Start monitoring your time-in-view by ad unit, and then optimize toward it.
  • Evaluate your inventory for ad clutter 

Bottom Line: advertisers are very likely to target for longer time in-view, and on pages with less ad clutter. Optimizing your inventory accordingly will help you bring better results to your advertisers, maintain better long-term relationships, and ultimately drive more revenue. After all, a smaller number of impactful impressions is more valuable to the advertisers than a larger number of impressions that had little impact.