To See or Not To See…..

Viewability. Silly made-up word. Important concept.

Viewability” is the shorthand that ad agencies and ad tech outfits are using to discuss a big problem: Many of the ads that run online aren’t seen.

There are a number of reasons for this. Since a lot of online advertising is bought by computers talking to computers on automated bidding platforms, there’s no one point of sale. So there’s no nice person to make sure your reel or your flat gets to production with tender loving care. Instead, there are racks of machines plugging your ads into blank spaces appearing on website across the Internet at a speed so fast you can’t see it happen.

Some of those spaces are seen by real people sitting in front of laptops or looking at a phone or tablet. Some are not. Why not? Here are just a few reasons:

– The ad placements are “below the fold” – they appear far down on the web page where readers often don’t go. When this happens, an ad is registered as “seen” but not actually viewed.

– Some ads are seen by computers crawling websites looking for data (sometimes called “spiders“). Again, an ad is registered as “seen” because a computer calls it up.

Outright fraud: Ad impressions are dumped outside your target market by unscrupulous networks looking to fill an order. Technology, sadly, does not change human nature.

– Increasingly, readers are deploying blocking technology to screen out ads.

Viewability is a big problem for political for the most obvious of reasons: Campaigns have little time and fewer resources than large advertisers with year-long campaigns and billion dollar marketing budgets. And since most political advertising is still bought via network buys it’s particularly vulnerable.

What to do? Political campaigns can follow the lead of large advertisers in a few ways.

– Put a portion of your online budget into direct buys so you know where you ads are going. Here at Spot-On we buy direct and we insist that all our placements are “above the fold”.

– Set aside a portion of your budget for “rich” media placements. These high-impact ads can’t be resold the way banners ads are and they can be animated to run your TV spots.

– Monitor your network buy. Instead of sending your creative directly to your ad network, have it trafficked and managed by a media buyer who can give you “viewabilty” statistic. Spot-On’s buys regularly see 90% plus viewabilty for direct buys and rich media; in the low 70% for our ad networks.

– Ask for server access. Ad servers register performance every day – or every hour – ask your media buyer to give you a log-in so you can look for yourself. Spot-On provides access for all clients on demand and any reputable ad network should be happy to let you learn more about your buy.