Real-Time Real Talk: Viewability 101

16046_Real_Time_Real_Talk_V3-01Real-Time Real Talk” is an ongoing blog series that seeks to clarify the “what”, “why”, and “how” behind ad tech innovations.

Today's "Real-Time Real Talk" blog post will provide an overview of AppNexus Viewability, a best-in-class technology that helps ensure your target audience actually sees the ads you've paid for (imagine that). We've also included a primer, which includes some of the slides featured in yesterday's webinar on the industry's first open viewable marketplace.

What is viewability?

Viewability is a metric that tells marketers how much of an ad can be seen by the people it's served to.

Unfortunately, many online ads wind up being displayed in places where the user will never see them. This happens for several reasons: the ad might be in a browser window that's hidden behind another application the person is using, or in a tab the user never looks at, or so far down a web page that the user never scrolls far enough to see it.

It goes without saying that this is a pretty big deal. After all, if no one sees your ad, you've essentially wasted your money on an impression that won't persuade anyone to purchase your products. This is especially true when it comes to video ads, which are more expensive than display and therefore create even more waste when impressions aren't viewable.

Check out our primer below to learn more:


That's a bummer. How do I find out whether my ads are viewable?

We acquired the viewability measurement company Alenty in June 2014 to give our customers real-time information about the impressions they purchase on our platform. Alenty's technology uses information about the position of an impression on the page and the location of a user's scroll bar to automatically determine viewability for our customers. This automation eliminates the need for our ad-buyers to perform manual reporting tasks, as well as the human errors that might otherwise have cropped up along the way.

This service comes free with the use of our platform, and it allows buyers to instantaneously use viewability results to optimize their campaigns. So far, we've found that roughly 50% of impressions on our platform are viewable, as compared with the 40%-45% typically listed in industry benchmark reports.

That's great. Is there any way to avoid buying non-viewable impressions entirely?

Our Viewable Marketplace feature allows ad buyers to transact on viewability directly on our platform. This means that with a click of a button, you can choose only to purchase impressions that have been deemed viewable by Alenty technology.

What's great about this feature is that we integrate directly with publishers, allowing for the automatic clearing and purchase of viewable impressions. This makes our process much easier than that of our competitors, who usually require customers to get a third-party vendor to provide a viewability report after the campaign has been delivered. Even after that, marketers still need to negotiate with individual publishers at the end of the month to reconcile the money they spent with the number of viewable impressions they actually received.

Even better? Our seamless Viewable Marketplace solution works with any publisher that uses other adservers (thanks to a mechanism called “header bidding”).

What about publishers? Aren't they going to hate this?

It's true that publishers could be skeptical about the idea of transacting on viewable impressions. After all, when buyers can specify that they only want to pay for viewable impressions, it becomes a lot more difficult to sell non-viewable inventory.

But thanks to the auction mechanism of AppNexus Viewable Marketplace, the predicted value of each impression is compared with the other sales channels. Therefore selling viewable impressions becomes an additional source of revenue for publishers without cannibalizing their other payment methods.

Moreover, publishers have in recent years started to learn that viewability strengthens their businesses in the long run.

That's because viewable deals allow publishers to attract more demand from top-tier buyers like GroupM, who have increasingly stated that they will no longer pay for non-viewable impressions. Not only that, but viewable deals rewards high-quality publishers by allowing them to charge a premium for their most visible inventory.

Most importantly, viewability makes the entire digital ecosystem more attractive to buyers by increasing transparency and trust in the online marketplace. Indeed, with viewability technology becoming more widespread, no other medium gives marketers the same level of confidence that people are actually absorbing their advertising messages.

Cool! Where do we go from here?

The Viewable Marketplace is just the tip of the iceberg. In the years to come, non-viewable impressions will slowly but surely become a thing of the past as it becomes increasingly easier for marketers to find and buy viewable inventory. Over the next several years, the standard currency of online advertising will shift from the CPM (cost per one thousand impressions) to the Viewable CPM, or vCPM (cost per one thousand viewable impressions).

There's no reason your marketing dollars should be wasted on impressions no one can see. At AppNexus, we're doing everything in our power to make sure your budget delivers the results you deserve.


  • Real-Time Real Talk