Nov 29 2012
Basis Team

Making Sense of the Viewable Impressions Movement


Many thanks to all of you who joined us on November 14th for our webinar “Viewability: What publishers need to know to compete for dollars.”

We got a lot of great feedback and requests for more information so we’ve decided to do a very high-level recap of some of presenter Ben Pashman’s most important points.  We’ll also provide more information on testing and determining your own web sites’ viewability.

First let’s start with Ben’s top take-aways. Keep these in mind as you work towards the goal of transitioning your site from a “served” to a “viewed” impression measurement standard.

What’s the difference between a viewable impression and a regular impression?

An impression is counted when it leaves the ad server. It may never be seen because it was below the fold, the user scrolled or clicked away too quickly, or because the ad never fully renders.

With viewable impressions, instead of billing an advertiser on how many ads were served, the advertiser would bill against only those impressions that were viewed.  The current standard for considering an impression viewable is an ad in which a minimum of 50% of the creative is in view for at least one second.

When does this go into effect?

Ben stressed that this is a “proposed initiative. None of this has been finalized, but we’re trying to get out in front to of it.

Industry leaders see this new metric as a new currency that publishers can organize around and an opportunity to close the gap between TV spending and digital spending because of the expected ability to compare spent apples to apples between digital and broadcast.”

He added: “It’s coming – it’s not a question of if, but when. I’d say the time frame is 12-18 months for regional players vs. 3 months for national ones. The question then becomes: Do you want to get ahead of it or wait until you’re forced to adapt?”

How do we get started?

The biggest number of questions that rolled in during the webinar, and afterward, was about how to get started.

It was probably this slide which gave most people pause:

Who knew there were this many organizations out there already tracking eyeballs in preparation for the huge shift in how ad impressions will be measured?

Ben told the crowd, “Begin testing with ad verification services as soon as possible to get a sense of where you live on the Viewable Impression (VI) index and start thinking about the way you are going to respond to flourish in this new reality.”

“I suggest testing fast and often and with more than one vendor. Typically, I’d run 30-day tests and focus on as much inventory as you can. If you can run 100% for 30 days that’s a best practice for us. The data you get back will tell you which parts of your inventory are viewable or not, and what your overall percentage of viewability is.”

Lots of attendees wondered about the costs for this service which Ben opined could be favorable for publishers at this time. “At this point I don’t think the cost will be too significant because these organizations are looking at providing these services as an entry point to bigger relationships.”

Here is a short list of Ad Visibility Vendors, in no particular order, that can help you test and determine best next steps:

As you continue to test and consider your next steps towards guaranteed viewability, keep an eye on Making Measurement Make Sense. This site is an excellent resource and includes the most current proposed timeline for this initiative’s implementation.

Again, many thanks for joining us for this opportunity to share industry expertise.