Programmatic surges but viewability rates in decline

Ad space bought using programmatic media-buying technology continues to grow at a rapid rate, as advertisers increasingly seek to use such technologies for their branding campaigns, but only one-in-two of these ads are actually viewed by consumers, with viewability rates continuing to fall, according to a report.

The findings were revealed in the latest Adform quarterly RTB (real-time bidding) Trend Report published today (20 July), which also shows the amount of money spent on branding ad formats using programmatic technologies surged 333 per cent in the 12 months to Q1 2015. This led to an increase of 119 per cent, when it comes to the amount of ad dollars spent in such a manner.

However, despite the increased attention of brand-side marketers, only 55 per cent of these ads are seen by web users, with viewability rates down 0.7 per cent compared to 12 months earlier. This is on top of overall engagement rates falling by 33 per cent, plus the average amount of time audiences spent interacting with said ad units also declining from 13.93 seconds to 12.66 seconds over the year.

Meanwhile, the report also revealed the amount of ad space traded using programmatic media-buying technologies increased 76 per cent year on year, with the increasing number of those bidding on ad slots resulting in good news for publishers, which saw a 42 per cent average increase in their CPMs over the surveyed period.

The vast majority (75.5 per cent) of money spent on such ad units continues to be spent on desktop inventory, as targeting mobile internet audiences using such technologies remains difficult due to the fact that cookies (the primary method of tracking online audience behaviour) are largely ineffective on wireless devices.

The report also demonstrated that the average CPC (cost per-click) publishers can charge in private marketplaces, or PMPs, (where they invite selected advertisers to bid on preferred inventory) is 31 per cent higher on average than in open auctions.

Martin Stockfleth Larsen, chief marketing officer at Adform, said: “Both advertisers and publishers are embracing the advances of the industry in terms of innovative brand formats and PMPs, and are executing increasingly sophisticated campaigns that drive excellent results. Programmatic is taking root in every country in the region.”

Adform’s pan-European report also breaks down the metrics in each individual market, demonstrating that overall engagement rates in the UK dropped to under 1 per cent in Q2 2015, compared to 3 per cent a year earlier, although the average engagement time spent with such ad units there remained high at just over 15 seconds.

The report also noted that average viewability rates in the UK remain low, with Adform noting that a dip in viewability rates there were marked, additionally forecasting that publishers are likely to respond by phasing out inventory which generates lower viewability rates.

The decline in ad viewability rates comes despite the best efforts of trade bodies such as the IAB Europe, which recently launched an ad viewability task force and published several documents aimed at curbing concerns over the issue, including a definition on when an ad is, or is not seen.

This was further followed up by joint efforts from the IAB, ISBA, the IPA, plus AOP, to unify their constituents’ efforts when it comes to measuring advertising engagement rates.

Ronan Shields

I'm the digital editor at The Drum, and cover adtech and martech. Prefer news and analysis, over opinion pieces. Current fascination(s) are blockchain and media futures trading; also curious about transhumanism on a personal basis. NYC-based, but really London Irish.

All by Ronan