Ad viewability climbed to 52% in the UK last quarter, surpassing the long-elusive halfway point, but Britain still trails behind Europe.

Findings by ad verification company Meetrics identified a rise of 3% between Q2 and Q3 2015 in UK ad viewability, which is recognised by the IAB and Media Ratings Council as an ad in 50% view for at least one second.

While performing above the average, the rate Germany saw a decrease from 64% to 61% in the same period. France now sits with a healthy 69% after witnessing a 5% increase.

Billion-pound problem

It shouldn’t be denied that progress is being made in the UK, says Meetrics’ director of international business, Anant Joshi, but there is still a long way to go before Britain ‘gets to grips’ with redundant spend.

“Based on the IAB’s latest digital ad spend report our data suggests about £260 million was wasted in Q3 on unseen ads – equivalent to over £1 billion a year,” says Joshi.

Large variances were identified between specific formats of display ads, with ‘half-page’ ads averaging the highest viewability (72%), while ‘leaderboards’ bottomed the rank at 40%.

Joshi claims that sluggish loading speeds sit at the heart of the issue, which are not catering to consumer browsing behaviour.

“The main reason ads aren’t viewable is they take too long to load – about 20% of ads served don’t load before a viewer has moved elsewhere,” says Joshi.

Fraud & deceit

This isn’t, however, the opinion of Samuel Scott, marketing & communications director of log analysis software company, who believes the lack of viewability goes much deeper than loading speeds.

“The main reason that many, if not most, digital advertisements are not appearing is not because they take too long to load. It is because of the rampant deception, fraud, and deceit that occurs all too often within the industry,” he comments.

“Publishers shrink ads into tiny 1×1 pixel units and stack numerous ad units on top of each other, ensuring that website visitors see few of them but that the publishers still get paid for the impressions.”

Touted as one of the biggest unspoken issues in digital advertising, the problem of display ad wastage will be tackled at Performance Marketing Insights: London 2015 in October.