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Does Ad Viewability Always Equal Views?

February 23, 2016
Aaron Polmeer

By rMaynes1

Posted by rMaynes1

[Estimated read time: 6 minutes]

There’s a lot of talk about ad viewability at present, and with big players such as Google announcing in 2015 that it would only charge advertisers for 100% viewable impressions, it’s easy to see how it’s become such a hot topic in the digital marketing world.

But what exactly does it mean to be “viewable?” Does this mean people will look at your ad? We recently conducted a research study that set out to answer these questions.

Conducting the eye-tracking study

The study was conducted in two parts: an online survey of 1400 participants for quantitative data, and an eye-tracking study designed to observe actual behaviors of searchers online — more qualitative data.

The goal was to measure the type of ads people noticed and engaged with the most, determining whether behavior changed depending on the intent behind the search task (research or purchase) and the relevancy of the ad. We also wanted to determine how viewable online display ads truly are and what other factors influenced whether or not people viewed them.

Participants performed tasks in Mediative’s lab while being recorded using the Tobii T60 desktop eye tracker. The key metrics measured were:

  • Time to First Fixation – How long it took the searcher to fixate on an ad. A fixation is when we hold our eyes still and actually take in visual information. A typical fixation lasts from 100–300 milliseconds, and we generally fixate 3–4 times every second (Source:
  • Total Visit Duration – How long the searcher spent in total fixating on the ad.
  • Visit Count – How many times the searcher came back to look at the ad.
  • Percentage Fixated – The percentage of all participants who looked at the ad.
  • Percentage Clicked The percentage of all participants who clicked on the ad.

A participant conducting a calibration test on the T60 Tobii Eye-tracker in Mediative’s research lab

“The findings in this study are a powerful reminder to create engaging advertising programs that responsibly leverage first- and second-party data. Marketers are still better off complimenting user experiences than disrupting them.”

– Sonia Carreno, President, Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada

What is viewability?

“Viewability,” as defined by the Media Ratings Council, means an ad has 50% of its pixels in view for a minimum of one second. Essentially, an ad is viewable if there’s an opportunity for it to be viewed. 76% of ads in Mediative’s study were served in a “viewable” position as defined above.

An opportunity for an ad to be viewed, however, does not mean that it will be viewed. 16.6% of the ads that were served throughout the study were viewed. 50% more ads were viewed above the fold compared to below the fold, and ads above the fold were viewed for 87% longer.

Increasing viewability to increase views

Although click-through rate is a clear indicator of whether an ad was viewed or not, it doesn’t give the whole picture. It gives no measurement of how many ads were …read more

Source:: Moz Blog