Real-Time Real Talk

Real-Time Real Talk: Stop Wasting Money on Non-Viewable Ads

With Guaranteed Views, you'll only pay for viewable impressions. 

Blog Post
The AppNexus Team

Viewability, Guaranteed Views, AppNexus, APP

Viewability keeps advertisers up at night. And how could it not? Digital advertisers work to squeeze as much reach and performance out of their campaign budgets as they possibly can, but have to deal with the fact that nearly half of all display ads don’t pass industry viewability standards, meaning they’re unlikely to ever be seen.

It should go without saying that non-viewable ads waste money and directly hurt campaign performance numbers like CTR and CPC. But consider the operational costs as well. Programmatic advertisers spend an inordinate amount of time measuring and trying to improve viewability – something that by now should be table stakes – when they should be focusing on crafting campaigns that resonate with their desired audiences.

Viewability is one of the key issues we need to solve as an industry, and we’re excited to announce a new buying option that moves us a big step in that direction: Guaranteed Views. As the name would suggest, we’re guaranteeing that buyers using Guaranteed Views will only pay for viewable impressions across all inventory on the AppNexus Marketplace.

Refresher: How buyers address viewability today

Today, there’s no way for advertisers on the open internet to transact programmatically on IAB-standard views, as ads are bought and sold on a CPM basis. Instead, advertisers must try their best to optimize for viewability and then back their way into achieving an acceptable viewable CPM (vCPM) number, based on the CPM they pay and the view rate they end up getting on their inventory.

Most advertisers try to maximize campaign viewability using threshold targeting. Using a third party provider, buyers can limit their campaign spend to ad units that have historically achieved a minimum viewability threshold – a typical guide is a 70% historic view rate, meaning that impressions generated by that ad unit in the past have been viewable 70% of the time. However, threshold targeting is far from an exact science – as in all aspects of business, past results are no guarantee of future performance. For example, we’ve found that 42% of viewable impressions on the AppNexus platform come on inventory that fails to meet the 70% historic view rate standard. That means buyers are missing out on a huge portion of the viewable inventory available and likely paying higher CPMs chasing historically viewable inventory that ends up non-viewable.

Not only are the results of threshold targeting hit or miss, but the entire process of optimizing for viewability takes up a huge amount of buyers’ time and effort. Advertisers’ primary focus should be on metrics that reflect their ads’ performance – CTR, CPC, CPM, and the like – rather than if they’re actually seen.

So, how do Guaranteed Views improve the viewability status quo?

We can’t yet fix the fact that CPMs are the central commodity of digital advertising – there’s still no way for an advertiser to buy views directly from most publishers at scale. But with Guaranteed Views, we’re enabling buyers to transact on vCPMs for any inventory available on our marketplace, without anything changing from the publisher’s perspective.

Here’s how it works. APP buyers using an augmented line item and DSPs integrated onto the AppNexus platform now have the option to buy inventory using Guaranteed Views. When they do, our viewability algorithms will analyze each impression available to the buyer and prioritize spend on the ones it predicts are most likely to be viewed. If an impression is bought and it doesn’t end up resulting in a view, we won’t charge the buyer for it and will eat that cost ourselves.

In other words, we’re making it possible for publishers and advertisers to transact on two different commodities: views on the buy-side and impressions on the sell-side. We’re taking on the risk of whether those impressions turn into views or not. In return for creating this market, bringing 3rd party viewability partners in to do the measuring, and taking on some risk, we charge buyers a 10% commission. Publishers still get paid for each impression regardless of if it’s viewable or not, so nothing changes on their end.

AppNexus buyers who helped us test Guaranteed Views are already reporting positive results. In one campaign for instance, Operam found that compared to a line item using the traditional 70% threshold targeting formula, its Guaranteed Views line item achieved 37% lower vCPMs and a 48% lower CPC.

The 100% viewable future is on its way

We’ve long held that programmatic advertising needs to move to a 100% viewability standard, and this is just the first step. If you’d like to learn more about how to get started with Guaranteed Views, please contact us here.