The challenge of online ad viewability looks set to continue in the UK as new stats have the region’s level of ads ‘in-view’ at their lowest point in 18 months.

A spike in programmatic buying has been named as a huge factor in declining viewability rates in Britain, where only 47% of display ads meet IAB and MRC guidelines requiring 50% of the placement to be in-view for at least one second. 

The new stats, delivered by Meetrics, show Germany and France achieving in-view rates of 60% and 62% respectively, which contributes to an ‘international’ average of 56%. 

Automated ad sales are picking up across Europe on the whole. However, Anant Joshi, director of international business at Meetrics, said the UK is suffering from higher penetration in this regard. It has a more “volatile” market as a result, shown by viewability dropping from 54% to 47% over the course of Q1 – Q2.

Austria leads the way

Beyond the general weighting of programmatic spend, commentary attached to the new figures goes some way to ascertaining why exactly the UK is falling so far behind in the viewability stakes. 

Austria was shown to be leading by example, with 69% of its ads being in-view during Q2 of this year. This comes fresh off the back of an initiative sparked by a significant amount of publishers, who have worked closely with advertisers to set a definition for viewability and trade ad space off the back of it.

By this reckoning, ads that are traded through this process are all in-view.

Similar efforts provide hope for a better level of viewability in the UK, with huge servers like Google and AppNexus offering 100% viewable options for advertisers wanting to buy inventory that is guaranteed to be seen by humans, rather than robots.

A worthy path

Adding another angle to the ongoing stories around viewability are studies from groups like Infectious Media, which continue to throw a curveball by highlighting the correlation between better-quality inventory – or ads in-view – and a higher cost per acquisition. 

It’s said that chasing 100% viewability and using this as a key indicator of performance is not viable as a result of the increased cost involved.

While advertisers mull over the best direction to take, Joshi states that problems with publishers jumping on the programmatic wagon and serving ads at a faster pace will contribute to declines in viewability, and results like the above.