Moving towards a new viewability standard

March 16, 2018

With digital effectiveness being called into question more frequently, the move to raise standards can only benefit advertisers in the long-term.

At the ISBA Annual Conference earlier this month, it was announced that ISBA was adopting a new viewability standard calling advertisers to buy digital display at 100% in-view. The current standard of 50% in-view has been established for a number of years but the recent ISBA call reiterates the next step advertisers and agencies have been striving for. It has been widely accepted that the current standard isn’t perfect so it’s great to see the professional body for advertisers (ISBA) and agencies (the IPA) unite and push for improvements in a fast-moving channel.

Whilst the move to setting a new 100% in-view standard won’t happen overnight, the renewed calls and more openness to discuss measurement between all stakeholders is likely to yield a real-step change once again. Whilst brand safety and ad fraud were top of 2017 agendas, viewability has the spotlight once again and we believe this will benefit advertisers in the long-term.

Short-term pain, long-term gain

For many advertisers the move to measuring in-view rates was revealing enough, but this should just be the start of the journey. Implementing viewability measurement is now the baseline, measuring the impact of viewabilty and varying in-view rates on channel performance should be the focus. It can reveal that a channel or partner the advertiser thought was effective actually isn’t so be prepared to receive some interesting insights when you deliver deeper beyond the standard viewability rate.

More openness and curiosity

Alarming headlines such as “56% of digital ads served are never seen (…)” and “Half of online ads aren’t 50% in-view for even a second” used to dominate the trade press a few years ago. As an agency, we’d receive questions from our clients regularly citing the latest headlines and questioning all activity we were running on their behalf. However over the past 18 months we have seen a shift in the questions our clients are asking and a real openness to work together to understand the numbers behind viewability, appreciating that not everything we test will work. With the conversation moving away from trying to disregard all digital advertising to asking “how can we improve the effectiveness of my campaigns?”, we’re able to test and learn more than previously and really add value to our clients’ businesses.

Continued collaboration between measurement and media partners

Facebook & Google were forced to be more transparent and open to working with third-party measurement partners last year, so the latest call is likely to deliver a response and changes once again.

The move to a setting a new standard for viewability in ‘official’ form will take a while to implement. However, our advice for all advertisers is not to wait until the standard changes, set the new standard yourself and understand what works for you.


Sharan Cheema, Client Services Director

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