It’s no secret that viewability is one of the hottest topics among digital publishers, advertisers, agencies, and ad-tech companies. The growing threat of revenue loss and advertiser defections to higher quality inventory have set off a flurry of viewability enhancement projects among publishers.
While many aspects of increasing viewability can be technically complex and potentially expensive, Mezzobit research and our discussions with dozens of major media companies have highlighted some simple steps that site operators can make.
Publishers must choose whether to display ads that may never be seen by the visitor, risking having them written off at the end of the campaign or having to throw in more impressions (make-goods) to hit targets. An example would be below-the-fold ads, particularly those that are deep into the page. Many publishers have chosen to attempt to increase their site’s viewabilty score by using lazy loading, which holds back ad rendering until the user browses to within a few hundred pixels of the ad unit. This technique is similar to the infinite pages that have risen in popular over the past few years.
The viewability maelstrom also has hit slideshows, a popular pageview-generating tool that has a checkered history with advertisers due to low interaction rates for ads accompanying individual slides. Low viewability scores for some slideshow ads have intensified these discussions. Some publishers have responded by raising viewability scores through persisting the same ad for several slides or using interstitials, particularly ones with short timers to ensure that the user pauses (but not so long to force abandonment).
Ad refreshers are another popular way to increase inventory, and are commonly accepted by the buy-side when the refresh interval is reasonable (minutes, not seconds). However, many refreshers continue to fire even when the ad unit is out of view (elsewhere on the page) or out of focus (on another browser tab). For users who may leave sites up on their browsers for hours, unrestrained refreshers can be a serious blow to viewability scores — it’s like having a water faucet running when you leave the house. So make sure that the refresher code can disable itself in these circumstances.
Not all viewability issues are triggered by user behavior, design or browser technology. Oftentimes, external ad calls run long or heavy ad creative is slow to load. If you’re seeing low viewability with regard to certain campaigns, run reports in your ad server to see what type of creative the advertiser is using and whether it’s optimized for delivery. There’s a strong correlation between creative size and complexity and viewability scores. Even if this can’t be fixed during the life of the campaign, having this data available for the inevitable buy-side conversation could reduce write-offs.
There are many more tips that we’ve seen in the field and will be sharing in the coming months. Mezzobit’s Viewability Optimization Module is designed to provide dozens of technology improvements delivered in a simple cloud package, including several that further enhance publisher environments that have already implemented the aforementioned measures.