Rethinking Viewability for Brands.

Imagine you’re the CMO of a big CPG brand, and you want to look at the performance of your digital marketing. You’ve paid for 100,000 impressions served, yet someone on your digital marketing team points out that your ad was only seen 54,000 times. How could that be? You call your marketing technology vendor, and you find out that both scenarios are true: this is because, on average, only about 54% of all ads loaded are actually viewed. Think of an ad that loads at the bottom of a page, or one that is loaded into a tab the viewer never looks at: these ads were never truly seen. The viewability of your ad is a metric missing from your evaluation.

Viewability can be defined as whether or not a viewer saw at least 51% of the advertisement for at least a full second. Viewability should not be the only metric used in evaluating advertising success; point-of-action metrics (CTR, VCR, etc.) are easier to quantify and to access, and they play a vital role in understanding the effectiveness of your campaign.

Still, brands should also factor in viewability for a more holistic view of their campaign’s success. Any brand, from Coca-Cola to Toyota, must nurture its relationship constantly with the user: having viewable ads on a page (regardless of whether or not they are clicked through) may be a superior metric when evaluating that concern.

At Tapad, we wanted to address this head-on. That’s why we’re introducing Viewable Exposure Time (VET), or the evaluation of the optimal amount of time an ad is present on a screen. We hypothesized that campaigns can be optimized for viewability. While increasing VET is beneficial to increasing brand awareness and conversion efficiency, it’s also a guide for identifying a point of diminishing returns that decreases your conversion rate. Tapad’s industry-leading cross-screen data is ideal for understanding viewability: Optimal VET can vary greatly across platforms, and without cross-screen data brands may end up reaching some users too frequently and others too rarely.

For our initial VET evaluation, we looked at 100MM impressions spread across a wide variety of campaigns to see what the optimal VET might be: we then evaluated the success of the campaign by looking at conversion rate.


Our research found that by increasing VET to a certain point(here, 90-120 seconds), marketers can maximize their conversion rate and minimize costs. After that point, however, returns begin to diminish. This represents a powerful first step in helping advertisers understand viewability. Currently, Tapad is working on VET-based tools and automated algorithms to help advertisers optimize their campaigns to deliver optimal exposure, and we are looking at other ways to use viewability metrics to improve outreach efforts.