UK advertisers wasted over £600 million on non-viewable ads last year, according to the latest benchmark report by ad verification company Meetrics.

The ads in question are those that did not meet the standard of being 50% in view for at least one second, a standard laid out by the IAB and Media Ratings Council.

Under those parameters, 49% of ads served in Q4 were considered non-viewable, and while this was the same figure as Q3 – and a meagre increase on the second quarter (47%) – it was significantly lower than the 54% viewability level reported in Q1.

As such, the UK still remains significantly on the back foot when compared to its continental neighbours; Austria enjoys levels of 68%, while Germany and France take at least a positive lead with 58% and 57% respectively.

Slow progress

The bleak statistics, that have become commonplace year on year, led Meetrics’ director of international business, Anant Joshi, to admit that things “just aren’t improving”, despite the initiatives focused on making ads viewable. 

“Yes, you can argue viewability has stabilised over the last couple of quarters and is marginally up on six months ago but the reality is viewability levels are lower than a year ago and over half of ads served still aren’t viewable,” Joshi commented.

Meanwhile, while a lot of “energy and focus” is being put into measuring viewability, said Joshi, not enough progress has been made to build on the insight, and proactively optimise for viewability – particularly on programmatic campaigns.

Indeed, a survey at the turn of the year into the challenges faced by programmatic into 2017 found ‘traffic sold with no viewability’ to be a concern among over a quarter (28.4%) of respondents

Spotting solutions

Pointing to a simple starting point, Joshi explained that simply identifying domains under-performing in regard to viewability or view time, and de-listing them from an automated buying platform, is one simple approach to improving the situation in 2017.

However, if industry faith in ‘traditional’ display is truly beyond repair, perhaps it’s time to get its members get more serious with video advertising technology.

In a 2017 forecast this January for PerformanceIN, Connatix CEO and founder, David Kashak, predicted advanced video ad tools, such as autoplay, to pave the way for better viewability and overall user experience.

“Facebook’s introduction of autoplay video to the feed in 2016 did wonders to acclimate users to the practice. Autoplay gained enough traction that publishers quickly adopted it as part of their arsenal, and 2017 will see this trend grow exponentially,” said Kashak