Thoughts on viewable impressions

“With great power comes great responsibility.” – Voltaire

For those in the digital media space, this quote might be altered to “with great functionality comes great expectations.”  Digital advertising is very powerful and flexible, providing amazing abilities to target and track the display, interaction, and downstream actions from virtually any placement on any platform.  These amazing capabilities drive high expectations from advertisers.  The latest trend in this category is viewability.

Wikipedia defines a Viewable Impression as “a metric of ads which were actually viewable when served (in part, entirely or based on other conditional parameters)”.  Viewable impressions are a key component of the  3MS (Making Measurement Make Sense), an industry-wide initiative of the IAB, ANA, and 4A’s (managed by MRC).  In a nutshell, it is a way to measure whether a digital ad was actually seen by a human being.  On the surface, this type of measurability makes a lot of sense and takes the digital advertising space to a new level of insight and value to advertisers.  However, there are some lurking concerns.

For starters: as ad viewability emerges as a standard, publishers will be incentivized to make certain more ads appear for a longer time in a consumer’s digital view.  This could lead to publishers compromising the user experience for the sake of monetization – for example, interstitials and overlay ads running amok.  It will be a challenge and balancing act for publishers to maintain great UX while delivering the ad results necessary to grow the business (impressions, CTR, viewability, Action Rate…)

It is also interesting to note how more “traditional” advertising that doesn’t have the functional capabilities of digital get to skate on…for example, what is the “Action Rate” from your latest billboard campaign?  Print advertising?  TV?  Systems that purport to measure these are nowhere near as reliable as digital, so these platforms can maintain $ rates without fear of increased performance demands.  Digital cannot.  Fair?  I think not.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds and impacts digital media across screens.  Thoughts?


4 thoughts on “Thoughts on viewable impressions

  1. Nice, simple summary Bradley. A topic that comes up in daily discussion at my place of work. Def going to be a challenge.


  2. I have been working on a post on this subject on my blog too Brad. The image or ad value has to be taken into account as well. If it a good image/ad vs a bad image/ad how does that play into all the metrics you discussed.


    1. Good point Spike, the quality of the creative clearly has an impact on all results from CTR to conversion/action. What your question also leads naturally to is the thought of more “native” sponsored content plays where viewability occurs naturally because the ad IS the content (or, the content is the ad). Planning a post on that soon…


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