UK ad viewability creeps past 50%, but still lags most of Europe

Online ad viewability levels in the UK increased to 54 per cent in the first quarter of 2016, the highest level for 18 months, according to a new report from ad verification company Meetrics.

The last time ad viewability rates in the UK were as high as the current level was Q4 2014, although despite the welcome news, viewability rates here still fall below the average levels elsewhere in Europe (see image below).

Anant Joshi, Meetrics’ director of international business, said the relatively high levels of unviewed ads in the UK meant that up to £600m of ad budgets were wasted annually in the UK last year, quoting the IAB’s latest ad spend report.

However, reflecting on the recent rise in ad viewability, he put the trend down to two main drivers: increased awareness in ad verification; plus the issue is starting to address the issue of ‘low viewability’ ad units being bought and sold using programmatic media buying technologies (which now accounts for 60 per cent of all online display ad spend.

In addition, Meetrics now claims to offer advertisers and media owners the ability to see what ads were not viewed by online audiences, i.e. when an ad meets the IAB and Media Ratings Council’s recommendation that 50 per cent of the ad unit is in view for at least one second.

For instance, if an ad’s file size was too large, and didn’t load in time before a viewer either clicked on another page, or moved elsewhere on the same page, and the ad unit is no longer visible. This was followed by the ad appearing below the fold (12.8 per cent), i.e. below the part of the page in view.

Joshi added: “A key route to improving viewability is increasing web-page performance and ad serving systems, notably, drastically reducing the amount of web browser redirects going on behind the scenes before content is loaded. Initiatives like the IAB’s Lean Ad Principles – actually designed to counter ad-blocking – should have a positive knock-on effect on viewability.”

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