Industry Perspectives

Ad-Viewability for Branding Campaigns

Blog Post
The AppNexus Team

Is ad-viewability only for branding campaigns? No, but as it is easier to explain, let’s start with branding campaigns, and keep direct response campaigns for another blog post.

First, what is a branding campaign?

You cannot find a definition on Wikipedia, and most people have a different definition.

In such cases, I like to use the negative definition: a branding campaign is a campaign that does not expect immediate and measurable impact.

For the Online media, branding campaigns are campaigns whose objective is NOT to get clicks or online conversions.

What about an online campaign that aims to drive sales to a brick and mortar shop thanks to a one-day discount? From the advertiser’s point of view, it is a direct response campaign. But as its performance cannot be measured automatically, it can fall into the category of branding campaigns.

Measuring the performance of branding campaigns from clicks or conversions is a mistake

Many studies has proved this point, but let me tell you a real story to exemplify this.

A shampoo maker made a campaign for a new product. The agency told them to add a call for action at the end of the message, so that they could measure the performance of the campaign (by counting clicks).

We did some market research around this campaign. The results were very interesting: people remembered more the prize (win a trip to Bali) than the product!

Real performance indicators for branding campaigns are hard to measure

The goals of branding campaigns are varied:

  • Recall
  • Favorability
  • Offline sales

Unlike clicks and conversions, these goals cannot be measured in real-time for the entire population.

They require samples (panels) who are surveyed or who measure their purchases.

In all cases, only a small percentage of exposed users is measured, and often the results are provided too late: long after the campaign is over.

Other media have successfully worked this way for decades

Links between TV advertising and, say, yogurts consumption, have been analyzed so precisely that manufacturers can forecast production from their advertising budgets.

This is all the more remarkable as the TV measurement also relies on panels. So, even with two limited sets of data (media panel and consumer panel), it is possible to optimize campaigns and predict production.

The Internet media is, at least, measurable

Thanks to the research made by our parents (people who worked in advertising decades ago), the correlations between media and branding key performance indicators are now known.

So, everything we have to do is:

  • Check that the models apply to online advertising
  • Use the (potentially revised) models

One way to measure the Online media similarly to the other media is to use ad-viewability.

Unsurprisingly, a very strong correlation has been proven between ad-viewability (under some duration conditions) and branding performance indicators like recall.

The good news about ad-viewability is that it is exhaustive. So, the models are even more reliable than on the other media.

Let’s take recall for instance. Since 2010, Alenty has worked with a publisher (, and a neuroscience company (MediaMento) on the link between recall and ad-viewability.*

Thanks to this scientific approach, it is proven that recall is maximized when you see the full duration of the message. The following chart shows a simplified version of the results:


The level of recall depends on the quality of the message itself. But for a given message, the performance of a branding campaign is maximized when the message is fully seen.

A bad message fully viewed will still have no effect.

Impressions that maximize their potential effect are called “efficient impressions.” But today, even good messages are not displayed efficiently to the audience. There is a huge waste of advertising dollars for online branding campaigns.

In another blog post, I may develop the concept of “efficient frequency,” and you will see how much improvement can be made.

Ad-viewability is not a performance indicator per se for branding campaigns.

But it is such a strong proxy that increasing the ad-viewability means increasing the effectiveness of a branding campaign.

Just like how direct response campaigns are monitored and optimized in real-time with clicks and conversions, branding campaigns can be monitored and optimized in real-time with ad-viewability.

* The full study (in French) can be downloaded here