Viewability levels in the UK reached the highest level in over a year in Q2, marking the first uptick in nine months.

The findings came from ad verification company Meetrics’ quarterly benchmark report, which found the proportion of banner ads meeting the minimum viewability threshold to have risen from 47% to 51%.

It’s the first lift since Q3 2016, and the highest level since Q1 2016 when Meetrics recorded a rate of 54%.

According to Meetrics’ commercial director Anant Joshi, the findings are “a step in the right direction” as improvements stemming from the efforts of viewability initiatives such as JICWEBS begin to show a steady market impact.

Despite the milestone, however, Joshi does not see the results as a cause for self-congratulation.

“The UK is still well behind other markets and the industry has much work to do. We can’t celebrate the fact that we’re back to almost half of banner ad budgets being wasted on ads that don’t have the chance to be seen,” he said.

Indeed, the UK continues to lag behind European competitors; Austria scores a much more substantial 69% viewability rate while France and Germany sit at 58% and 57% respectively.

For the first time, Meetrics also revealed the differing viewability levels between ads purchased direct and those purchased programmatically across Europe. Perhaps unsurprisingly, directs ads trumped programmatic at a rate of 59% to 52%.

“Direct ads may be more expensive but in the end, their viewability rates are higher and are more likely to be in a brand-safe environment,” noted Joshi.

With video ad spend on the rise, Meetrics also revealed that globally, an “encouraging” 69% of video ads meet the IAB and Media Ratings Council’s recommendation that 50% of the video ad is in view for at least two seconds.

“This is partly because viewers tend to be more engaged with video due to its greater screen size and being less surrounded by other ads,” explained Joshi.