Key Points

  • Viewability in digital advertising is a measurement that demonstrates the likelihood of visitors seeing the ads placed on your site.
  • Advertisers use viewability ratings to determine how much — if anything — they can and will spend on your ad inventory.
  • Optimizing for viewability can lead to more demand, better fill rates, and more revenue, but only if you get it right. Working with an ad revenue partner is the most effective way to minimize your risk and maximize your reward.

Would you buy tickets to see a show if there was only a 50% chance you’d be able to see the stage from your seat?

Probably not. Maybe, if the show was great and the tickets were cheap. But the lower the number, the less likely you’d be to make a purchase (or the less you’d be willing to pay for a ticket).

This is why your ad viewability rating matters. 

What is viewability in digital advertising, you ask? We’re going to fill you in. Keep reading.

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Ad Viewability Guide

Read the Complete Guide to Ad Viewability For Publishers



Definition of Ad Viewability

Viewability is a metric by which advertisers gauge the likelihood of an ad on your site being seen by potential customers. It answers the question of how often visitors may see ads placed on your site.

Viewability is demonstrated as a percentage that reflects the number of ad impressions that met the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Media Rating Council (MRC) standards for an ad to be considered “viewable”. This helps advertisers calculate the likelihood of a positive outcome for their advertisement, which impacts their decision to bid and if so, exactly how much.

All advertisers want their ads to be seen. It’s the bare minimum requirement for them to achieve their goals. So, if you offer highly viewable ad space, an advertiser will be more likely to spend to get their moment in the spotlight.

Definitions: Key Terms that Directly Relate to Viewability

When talking about viewability, there are some terms you should know —

  • Active View: a tool publishers can use to measure and report on viewability. Active View is provided by Google and is native to Google Ad Manager, AdSense, and AdMob
  • Ad calls/ad requests: the term for each time an ad is shown on a site during an active session. An ad call or request doesn’t necessarily mean an ad will be viewed by a visitor, but that it will be displayed for potential viewing.
  • Average viewable CPM: the average amount you pay for one thousand viewable impressions. This rate doesn’t factor in impressions that weren’t viewed, so it can provide insights that help you understand the price of your viewable impressions.
  • MOAT: the industry standard tool for viewability reporting.
  • Measurable cost: the entire cost of all ad impressions measured. Use this metric to gauge how much was spent on your measurable impressions.
  • Measurable impressions: the number of ads served that your reporting tool was able to measure. Most, but not all, ads served are measurable by all reporting tools. An ad impression that was unable to be measured is known as a non-measurable ad impression.
  • Measurable rate: a calculation of measurable impressions and total impressions that demonstrates the rate at which your impressions were accessible to your reporting tool.

  • Viewable CTR: a measurement of visitors who clicked a viewable ad. 
  • Viewable impression: an ad served that met the minimum standards to be considered viewable. 
  • Viewable impression distribution: a metric that demonstrates the percentage of both measurable and non-measurable impressions that qualified as viewable.
  • Viewability rate: the rate at which your impressions qualify as viewable.

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Check out our Complete Ad Viewability Resource Center 

What Makes an Ad Viewable?

The IAB and the MRC’s qualifications help standardize viewability in the digital advertising industry. 

There are a lot of variables across formats and devices, but the standards remain the same for mobile and desktop publishing. That being said, the viewability standard differs for video and display ads because the environments for each ad format vary so drastically.

Here’s a rundown —

  • Standard display ads: must be 50% visible on the screen for a minimum of one second.
  • Large display ads: any display ad larger than 242,500 pixels must be 30% visible for a minimum of one second.
  • Video ads: the video frame must be 50% visible and the video ad must play for a minimum of two seconds.

That’s it. Viewability doesn’t indicate whether a visitor will see the ad for longer than a second or two. It’s only meant to predict the likelihood that the ad will be seen at all. Everything else — engagement rate, CTR, watch time — is up to the strength and success of the creative.

Get Viewability Right With Playwire

If you want to maximize your revenue potential, viewability is a critical metric to master. But like most things in digital advertising, optimizing for viewability is complex and tedious.

Before you go at it alone, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of ad viewability. And even when you know what you’re doing, there are plenty of opportunities for potential failure.

Long story short, it’s a risky game. There’s a fine balance between viewability and revenue. Sometimes the latter even may need to take a short-term dip to ensure long-term success. That’s a much more complex conversation.

But that’s exactly what we do: we take the complexity out of all things digital advertising. At Playwire, we have all the tools, tech, and know-how to help you get a higher viewability rate in order to achieve your long-term user experience and ad revenue goals.

Contact us online today to get started.

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