The viewability of TV ads is being questioned, as new research suggests that one-in-three ads on TV are not watched by anyone and there is a growing demand from TV industry executives for common standards for ad viewability across TV and video.

Long thought to be stronger on viewability than many other ad channels, research from media agency IPG Media Lab shows 29% of TV ads go technically unseen, or are not “viewable, based on industry metrics”. In short, that means no-one is present in the room for at least two seconds when the ad is being aired.

The agency worked with TVision to carry out analysis on six months of people’s TV viewing behaviour – specifically to watch how often viewers see ads.

The 29% figure for TV compares to 31% of digital video being classified as unviewable, AdAge reported.

“Viewability has long been a term of discussion in the digital advertising landscape, but now the industry is realizing just how difficult it is to measure linear TV’s viewability as well, and track exactly how and when ads are being viewed,” Chad Stoller, managing partner for IPG Media Lab, said in a statement.

“The way TV has historically been measured does not capture the fact that TV does have a viewability problem that is similar to that of digital,” said Luke McGuinness, president of TVision. “It’s pretty similar in size and can have a fairly significant impact on how marketers think about their TV advertising.”

The study used technology in households that recorded data such as how many people were in the room when an ad ran, whether people were taking notice of it, and if the ad was being viewed by the audience it was targeted at.

The findings were somewhat inconsistent across categories. The clear leader was pharmaceuticals; these ads were viewed 75% of the time they were aired, and recreational ads, which encompasses entertainment, toys, games, gyms and fitness, were viewed 65% of the time.

Researchers believe the discrepancies may be due to the fact that pharma ads tend to be longer, and the longer the ad, the greater the viewability.

In Europe, meanwhile, a majority of TV industry executives want to see changes in TV advertising measurement as a matter of urgency.

Adobe Advertising Cloud, Sky, TV Beat and Alphonso surveyed 300 TV executives and found that 72% believe that the industry should seek new definitions and common principles for ad viewability, while two-thirds (64%) believe standardised definitions for TV and video impressions must be developed.

Sourced from AdAge, Adobe; additional content by WARC staff