LONDON: Ad viewability in the UK rose for the first time in 9 months, spurred by a significant increase in the number of ads that met minimum requirements; however, UK viewability still lags far behind other European markets.

According to research compiled by Meetrics, the proportion of banner ads that met minimum requirements in the second quarter of 2017 rose from 47% to 51%, the highest level since the 54% mark reached in Q3 2016.

“It’s certainly a step in the right direction and shows ad viewability initiatives, such as from JICWEBS and the like, are starting to impact the market,” said Anant Joshi, Meetrics’ commercial director UK & Ireland.

The UK has a lot of work to do, however, as viewability levels in Austria (69%), France (58%), and Germany (57%) far outstrip the UK’s average. “We can’t celebrate the fact that we’re back to almost half of banner ad budgets being wasted on ads that don’t have the chance to be seen,” Joshi added.

The research also uncovers the disparity in viewability between directly purchased ads and programmatically purchased ads, from across Europe. Direct ads had better viewability at 59% compared to 52% of programmatic ads. The results for brands, Joshi said, are largely justified.

“Direct ads may be more expensive but in the end, their viewability rates are higher and are more likely to be in a brand-safe environment.”

Significantly, Meetrics has also published, for the first time, international viewability figures for video ads. Over two thirds (69%) of video ads meet the IAB and Media Ratings Council recommendation that half the ad be in view for a minimum of two seconds.

“It’s extremely encouraging to see such a good initial viewability rate for video. This is partly because viewers tend to be more engaged with video due to its greater screen size and being less surrounded by other ads,” Joshi observed.

The average time that a video ad is in view is 23.4 seconds. For banner ads, the average is 25.5 seconds. However, the authors point out, this number does not record how long the ads were actually looked at.

Data sourced from Meetrics