Ian Poole, editor of Electronics Notes, has contributed some great insight with his guest blog posts, most recently Secrets of Making Good Video on a Budget. Here’s his latest piece, which discusses the importance of the viewability of online banner advertising.

What is Active View Viewability for Banner Ads?

One of the figures which has gained considerable prominence in the banner advertising world recently is a figure called Active View Viewability.

In the early years of web advertising, the click through rate, or CTR reigned supreme as a key metric, and in many ways it still does.

However many advertisers did not like paying for ads that were never seen, either because they were below the fold, too close to the top of the screen, or they just did not load before people moved on. Even though ads were delivered, they were not seen.

Google lead the way in introducing a new metric called Active View Viewability. In fact it is possible for advertisers who buy impressions in the Google Display Network to pay by bidding on the number of impressions based on whether they have been viewed by a user, vCPM rather than simply requested or clicked on.

A high active view viewable figure is very useful because ads that are seen are very useful in terms of carrying branding – click through rate is not the whole story.

In terms of a definition the advertising industry body, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, (IAB) defines the metric as being an ad that is deemed to be viewable if half of an ad’s pixels are visible on screen for one continuous second or more.

With Google leading the way in this metric, others are following, so it is wise to know what this is and how it will affect the way ads are bought and the way websites display ads, and hence how the websites are designed.

In recent years, the level of viewability has risen. It is also hard to set any hard and fast rules for what is acceptable, but in general many sites are now achieving figures between 50 and 60% viewable ads. 60% is well above average.

active view viewability
Active View Terminology

At Electronics Notes we have been working hard to improve our figures and we are now averaging just over 63% for our Google AdWords ads, and we have plans to improve this figure further.

The Active View Viewability figure is really useful in many ways, although it does not tell the whole story. Some ads at the bottom of a page can perform well. People get to the end of the content and then they need to move on. If an ad is suitably engaging and well placed, then it can gain a large number of clicks. However it may not be as viewable as others and therefore it may not carry as much value in terms of branding.

Active view viewable figures are here to stay, and even though, like any other figure, they cannot tell the whole story, they give a very good indication of the likely performance. After all, if you cannot see it then it is of no value. By pushing up the viewable figures, then advertisers get much better performance and better value for money.