Selling Ads: Viewability Metrics

Much of the consumer internet is “free” to use, that is, it’s based on selling advertisement inventory to advertisers. In most cases, advertisers pay for clicks (Cost-per-click, CPC) or impressions (Cost-per-mille i.e. cost per thousand ad impressions, CPM).

Now there’s a rising star: Cost per viewable impression, CPMv.

Why is this important? Because it drives quality and fairness.

The good old CPM measures when a banner is loaded on a web page. Therefore the advertiser pays only when someone actually can see the ad. This is pretty cool and much better than paying e.g. for an ad in a newspaper and not knowing if anyone ever reads the page your ad is on. The downside is that the banner can be so low down the webpage that it’s rarely seen by a reader. You see, some publishers (yes, big media houses) are filling their webpages with ads because they get paid for each ad impression. They don’t really care about quality, but only quantity. Some publishers break down their articles to multiple pages to generate more ad impressions for each article. And so on.

Depending on the source, it looks like half of the banner ads are not seen by anybody.  Half! That’s the average of course. Most websites are worse than that. Premium publishers are better.

The ability to measure viewability creates an interesting opportunity. We can put our viewability metrics side by side with other publishers and show that it’s better to advertise with us. While being more fair to advertisers, this benefits quality publishers as well. May I say “Win-Win”?

Take The Economist for example. They are a premium publisher and haven’t been holding back with viewability. The Economist sells “ViewGuarantee“:


For eligible campaigns, at least 75% of impressions served across the entire campaign will meet IAB ad standards (for most campaigns it will be higher). This is much higher than industry average. According to Moat analytics, Q2 2014 benchmarks for all publishers measured had 47.6% ad online and 44.2% on mobile.

I’ve been very happy to work with advertisers asking about viewability. Investing in quality pays off.



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