What Do Publishers Think About Viewability?

Welcome to the moving target that is viewability. Admonsters has done a survey of fifty ad operations departments at major publishers to find out how publishers felt about the lifting of the MRC stay. Agencies and  advertisers are now empowered to buy on viewability. This will not be an easy shift, as there are still inconsistencies in how viewability is measured. There are about a dozen certified  testing companies, from Comscore and Nielsen to startups, and they all measure with slightly different methodologies even if they are looking for the same standard.

Survey respondents and recent event attendees have told Admonsters that “a  publisher’s viewability isn’t a single number but varies by ad position and page type and then by how the user interacts with the page. This creates an extra level of complexity with inventory management and forecasting— critical functions that are already difficult for publishers to manage.”

Three of the major findings from the research are:

  1.  Viewability won’t be taking most publishers by surprise as they have been actively trying to understand the impact by testing multiple vendors and taking steps to improve viewability. 74% of publishers have completed testing for viewability on their sites. Only 15% hadn’t even begun to test, and most of these cited cost as the reason.
  2. While publishers see the lift as premature because results vary too much and the tech seems immature, the advisory’s removal hasn’t changed much since buyers were already demanding viewability. 59% of publishers said the market wasn’t ready for buying on viewability — by which they meant THEY weren’t ready. Some publishers who did test had to make changes in their site designs to make ads more viewable.
  3. Issues around discrepancies in the results provided by viewabilty solutions are heightened by the fact pubs and buyers differ on which solutions they use.

One survey respondent said, “typically, it’s centered around type of content and ad placement. Home pages tend to get morescrolling, so an ad at the top of the page is less viewable. Articles tend to get a slower scroll, so ad placement is a little less important.” Of the 46% of respondents who had already taken steps to improve viewability, 75% had changed the position of ads. 69% had instituted ad call loading only on in-view, and 38% had removed ads. These are all steps in the right direction.

10% of the respondents said they were selling on viewable impressions, 21% are considering it, and 67% said it was too early to know. For our publishers it shouldn’t be too early, because we’ve been selling viewable impressions for two years, ever since comScore tested our Inview Slider and certified it 99% viewable.

While the AdMonsters survey reflects an industry in transition, there has been so much time to prepare for buying and selling on viewability that we expect it to become standard in the market this year.