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Ad industry must reconsider viewability metrics

News, 04 September 2017
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LONDON: New research into the short-term advertising strength of YouTube and Facebook ads reveals that the industry standard of 50% pixels on-screen for two seconds has a high chance of the ad being missed and not influencing purchase.

This is according to a study conducted by Professor Karen Nelson-Field, of the University of Adelaide, and Dr Erica Riebe from the Centre for Amplified Intelligence.

Writing in the September issue of Admap, the researchers explain how their cross-media study found that viewability does drive the impact potential of an online ad.

They found the variation in impact recorded between ads seen in full and ads seen for the right amount of time is impressive.

“We can see that pixels on-screen accounts for 70% of the variation in impact, while seconds only explains 30%. So in relation to visibility, our data shows that 100% pixels consistently outperforms the standard, by at least twice as much (regardless of time on-screen),” the authors write.

However, they explain: “Being able to achieve high rates of pixels on-screen in the first few seconds must be even more important on platforms where audiences naturally view for less time.” As a result, Facebook’s in-feed ads can deliver more impact that YouTube pre-roll ads.

Yet the findings have some unseen implications, especially for Facebook ads which rely on passive watching within the News Feed.

Notably, they write, if the standard were increased beyond two seconds, Facebook’s ability to commercialise ad space “would be significantly reduced, as many exposures would simply not make the standard”.

“At a bare minimum, this research highlights the need for the global industry to review the current Media Rating Council (MRC) viewability standard for video, advancing new criteria that favour brand owners and advertising effectiveness,” Nelson-Field and Riebe argue.

In the long-term. the research points to the serious consideration of “a more advanced future currency that transcends media type and includes a heavier weighting to pixels and visibility of all video advertising units and formats”.

Concerns over online ad viewability began in 2011 in the US, whereupon the IAB, ANA and the 4A’s joined together to form the 3Ms (Making Measurement Make Sense). By 2014, online ad viewability standards were set: at least 50% of the ad needed to be visible for at least two seconds.

More recently, GroupM announced an “evolution” of its own standards, requiring that an ad be “100% in view” for all formats across social and mobile newsfeed environments.

Data sourced from Admap; additional content by WARC staff

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