Every day this week, PerformanceIN will provide background and expert commentary on IAB Believes: a five-part series which clarifies the UK organisation’s stance on some of ad industry’s biggest talking points.

Today (Tuesday, August 18), it’s the bureau’s turn to run the rule over viewability: the percentage of an ad considered in-view of the consumer.

The IAB says…

First and foremost, that “digital ad spend is in rude health”. There’s a side note, though. 

While the IAB is looking to secure maximum attention for advertiser campaigns through the issuing of guidelines and advice, it’s hard to shake off the fact that viewability is one of the biggest issues surrounding the industry. 

The bureau in the US stated at the tail end of last year that 100% viewability on a campaign was “not yet possible”, mooting that 70% of total campaign impressions in 2015 meet the guideline of 50% of the ad in view for a minimum of one second. In the UK, many private ad marketplaces now boast 100% rates for viewability and protection against fraud but this is not the norm in other environments.

The 70% target arrives in a “year of transition”, according to the bureau, in which advertisers, publishers, agencies and networks should join forces to address the lingering issue of inconsistency regarding how viewability is measured.

“Accredited technology partners can verify exposure and dwell time of an ad, but they don’t all measure in the same way,” commented IAB UK CEO Guy Phillipson.    

In its Believes statement, the IAB added that a greater focus on improving viewability should not prevent marketers from applying attention to the effectiveness of their campaigns, something pinned to “creativity, inventiveness and rigour” of a team. 

Our experts say…

‘Viewability is a tough nut to crack’

Eric Wheeler is CEO at publisher monetisation platform 33Across.

“For the past two years, according to comScore, ad viewability rates have been stuck at 46%. To combat that low rate, the IAB has raised the bar to 50%. Something has to give and we need to look at this with both eyes open. 

On the surface, viewability would appear to be a simple fix: just raise the criteria and those who meet it will survive, those who exceed it will thrive, and those who can’t clear it will have nobody to blame but themselves. Oh, so simple.

The reality is that viewability is a tough nut to crack. Advertisers now demand higher viewability standards and nobody wants to pay for an ad that won’t be seen. It’s not getting easier as mobile and video consumption continues to rise. Another factor impacting mediocre viewability rates are the various third-party vendors accredited by the Media Rating Council for tracking viewability, each with its own special sauce for establishing viewability metrics.” 

‘Tackling viewability is essential’

Jon Buss is MD for Northern Europe at display ad platform Criteo. 

“The fact that online advertising is not bound by footfall in the same way that billboards in Times Square and Piccadilly Circus are means brands need to work harder in order to capture consumer attention. Combine this with advancements in technology, the increased proliferation of devices and a waning consumer attention span and tackling the challenge of viewability becomes even more essential. 

It is great to see the IAB is committed to creating a constant viewability standard for online advertising and we would welcome the opportunity to work with the IAB in any capacity.”

PerformanceIN is working in association with the IAB to give people new to performance marketing a chance to attend Performance Marketing Insights: London free of charge. Applicants must complete a form ahead of the deadline on September 16, in the lead up to October’s event.