If you have the sneaking suspicion that your digital ad spend isn’t working hard enough, it turns out you’re probably right.
Hundreds of millions of pounds and dollars are being wasted each year on digital ads which are served but never viewed.
New figures from comScore show that more than half of digital ads (54%) are never seen by consumers. It’s a colossal waste, and demonstrates the need for brands and marketers to reassess their digital marketing approach.
As things stand, brands are buying thousands of impressions on a cost per thousand basis and blithely accepting the reported click-through rate (CTR) as an accurate metric of ad performance and ROI.
It’s become accepted as the nature of the medium that the number of clicks achieved by a campaign is vastly lower than the number of impressions served.
Marketers often think that switching to a rival ad network is the answer, and effectively operate a revolving door of recruiting ad networks that promise performance, under deliver, and then are exited in favour of the next agency.
Any measure of an ad’s performance is entirely pointless unless it could be viewed by a person. A greater emphasis on making ads viewable to consumers is surely also a focus on the fundamental goal of brand advertising – to actually make an impression on consumers.
An ad which is served but not seen is pure waste – and brands should expect more from their marketing activity. They should insist on metrics which show the number of ads that have actually been viewed by consumers.
Viewability needs to be the starting point for campaign assessment – clicks, engagement, interaction rates and all other metrics can only be properly considered once it’s understood how many people saw the ads.
However, the issue is exacerbated by the implicitly low expectations of ad viewability by current industry standards. The “viewable ad metric” used for the comScore research – taken from the Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) initiative – is that half an ad’s pixels must be in view for at least a second.
The 3MS initiative might have commendable aims, but this definition is hardly a measure of ad success. It means that of the 46 per cent of ads which were ‘seen’ by consumers in the comScore study, many may have only displayed half the creative to consumers and for only a single second.
The industry focus has to be on deploying ads designed to be viewable in their entirety. After all – marketers don’t spend their time, ingenuity and budget developing ads so only half an ad creative can be seen.
Marketers pay for consumers to see their full ad creative and all of the ads that they’ve paid for.