Viewability is one of the most important metrics publishers can optimize towards because the first step in driving brand engagement for advertisers is to ensure campaigns are seen by users. Advertisers use several key performance indicators (KPIs) to help measure the performance of their digital campaign spend. Compared to traditional advertising forms like radio and print, digital advertising offers unique opportunities for brands to understand how audiences engage with a brand via an advertising campaign. Advertisers measure performance through metrics that promote interactions with a brand such as the number of clicks on a banner or the amount of on-site purchases made after seeing an ad campaign. Since publishers often don't have insights into the performance of advertisers' campaigns, the best approach is to optimize for metrics that publishers can control which encourage buyer KPIs are met (such as viewability).
Advertisers use viewability to help accomplish their campaign goals more efficiently. They may set up campaigns based on the likelihood of a site delivering a specific viewability threshold. This approach helps buyers optimize for ad placements that users have a higher chance of viewing. Buyers want to minimize impressions that will not be engaged with by users because the ads are never in view. Non-viewable inventory cannot help the buyer achieve their engagement-based KPIs, so they work to exclude it from their ad spend.
Sortable works with publishers to understand the viewability of their inventory and optimize to increase the amount of advertising dollars brands spend on their websites. When we increase the viewability of a site, we see revenue increase through CPMs. As a result of more dollars being offered by advertisers, it increases competition for the inventory and the overall market value of the publisher's website.
What is a viewable impression?
In 2011, advisory groups Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's), and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) developed guidelines to measure viewability under the leadership of the Media Rating Council (MRC):
- For display ads, 50% of the pixels in the ad need to be viewed for one second.
- For video, 50% of pixels need to be in view for at least two seconds.
Sortable recommends a minimum of 60% average viewability for a website. We see more advertisers participating in header bidder auctions and more total dollars offered from advertising partners when a site's viewability surpasses 60%.
How can publishers increase viewability?
Publishers can increase viewability by placing ads where they are more likely to be seen by users, usually alongside high value content.
- Use sticky or anchor ad units “ A sticky banner stays in place on the screen as the user scrolls through the page, for example frozen in the right rail of the page or anchored to the bottom of the screen. These units remain in the viewport longer, thereby increasing the viewability. Refreshing sticky and anchor units generate more viewable impressions and helps increase the top line viewability of the website.
- Replace low-performing ad units “ Relocate ad units to a viewable position on the website alongside high value content. Ad units with low viewability can dilute the top line viewability metrics for the whole website. High viewability across the site helps increase the demand opportunities and overall ad spend from advertisers.
- Lazy load content and ads “ Lazy loading dynamically adds new content sections to the page as the user scrolls, instead of loading all resources on the initial page load. Lazy loading calls for new ad units as they are about to come into view, ensuring the user is engaged with the content before displaying an ad. Lazy loading also helps reduce page load time by delaying the requests for some resources until they are needed for the user.
In 2018, Sortable worked with several publishers to increase their viewability, with lazy loading being a common implementation. Results across most publishers were similar to the customer example shown below. We saw an increase of 63.56% in overall viewability (surpassing the 60% threshold) and a subsequent correlation in the rise of CPM. As a result of the optimizations, the publisher was able to maximize Q1 demand opportunities and maintain a more consistent CPM and revenue trend in January compared to Q4.
To learn more about seasonality and CPMs, you can read our blog post here.
At Sortable, we provide publishers with viewability metrics within our Sortable Analytics dashboard. We also have a dedicated onboarding team to help you optimize your site for viewability. Because each implementation and platform is slightly different, we help publishers set up lazy loading step-by-step.
If you are interested in talking with a Sortable adops expert about how we can help you optimize your advertising revenue, please fill out a request for demo. We would be happy to chat with you. If you are an existing customer and need help optimizing viewability or implementing lazy loading, please reach out to your account manager or email firstname.lastname@example.org.