TORONTO: Less than half of online advertising impressions meet the criteria of being "viewable and valid", according to new research from the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA) covering over 30 campaigns.

The ACA's study – which it conducted in partnership with Sentrant, a fraud-detection platform – spanned 33 online campaigns run by seven advertisers last year.

Among the headline findings were that 6.4% of impressions were invalid, with exact totals ranging from 4.5% to 21% depending on the specific campaign.

Elsewhere, the analysis revealed that 31.3% of impressions fell into the "human but unviewable category", while 17.5% could be described as "human but unmeasurable for viewability".

As such, the study suggested that only 44.8% of online impressions proved to be "viewable and valid" – a figure posing considerable challenges for all members of the marketing ecosystem.

"Invalid traffic is ubiquitous and highly variable. What works today to protect marketers will eventually fall short," Chris Williams, VP/Digital at the ACA, said in a statement.

One response, he asserted, is for brands to work closely with their media shops in tackling this problem. "It is in the marketer's best interest to institute a comprehensive digital media-buying policy with their agency," said Williams.

Some of the further tips offered by the ACA were for brands to leverage invalid traffic detection and verification technology, create lists of trusted publishers and identify platforms that deliver transparency and have "cost recovery policies".

Developing media-quality benchmarks and payment policies are another priority, alongside reviewing contracts with suppliers and using third-party auditors to ensure compliance.

Data sourced from Association of Canadian Advertisers; additional content by WARC staff