NEW YORK: Brand owners need to employ more rigorous techniques when running online ad campaigns, given that almost a third of ads are effectively wasted at present, comScore has argued.

The research firm partnered with major advertisers like Allstate, Chrysler, Ford, General Mills, Kellogg's, Kimberly Clark, Kraft and Sprint to assess 12 brand campaigns, spanning 3,000 placements, 381,000 domains and 1.7bn impressions.

It reported that an average of 69% of impressions were usually "in-view", defined as meeting industry guidelines from the ANA, 4A's and IAB suggesting at least 50% of an ad must be "viewable" for a minimum of one second.

The remaining 31% of ads were "delivered but never seen by the consumer", either because users had scrolled down the screen before it loaded or as they did not see the part of a page where it was situated.

"We are continually seeking to improve the overall effectiveness of every media dollar spent. Key to enabling our decisions is understanding who each impression reaches, how visible our ads are, and where the greatest efficiencies exist," said Aaron Fetters, associate director, global digital strategy and analytics at the Kellogg Company, said.

There was also considerable variance between individual sites, ranging from a low of 7% to a high of 91% in terms of ads being "in-view", meaning more careful monitoring tools are essential.

"It is critical that we can understand the extent to which ads delivered on our sites are actually viewed by the intended audience. This type of insight allows us to improve our relationships with consumers and our advertising partners," said Scott McDonald, SVP, research and insights, at Condé Nast.

Among the other findings of comScore's analysis was that an average of 4% of ads were delivered outside the pre-determined geographic area, a figure sometimes reaching 15%, and often leading to impressions in markets where the featured product was not sold.

Perhaps more worryingly for marketers, ads were shown next to material considered not to be "brand safe" by the company concerned in 72% of cases.

Firms like comScore are rolling out products to remedy this situation, but further progress will be required if new media is to match its traditional counterpart in this area.

"In order for marketers to have the same confidence in the digital channel as they do in TV, we need measurement around the visibility of ads," Mike Donahue, EVP, strategic partnerships at 4A's, said.

Data sourced from comScore; additional content by Warc staff