Measure if your Online Ads are seen or not with this Simple Metric

Measure Your Online Display Advertising Beyond Basics

Research says that investments from brands in Digital marketing are growing exponentially in the Middle East and it will triple in few years. A major component of this digital marketing investment is spent on “Display” advertising which is considered as an influential channel to introduce new products & services to target audiences by a large number of brands here in this region.

With the rapid growth of programmatic buying advertisers are spending even more in this medium than ever before. However in my experience of working in digital analytics in last few years I have observed that many brands is still measuring this channel in the “traditional” way – Impressions, Clicks & CTR are still considered as most important metrics to measure effectiveness of this channel. Many brands still don’t consider post-click analysis which is very depressing.

In last few years ad serving technologies have tremendously improved and they offer many smart ways to measure & optimize your Display banner campaigns apart from just offering above traditional metrics and viewability is one of these new metrics that you can measure.

Viewability Metrics

Viewability measures what percent of your ad impressions were actually seen. An Ad needs to be viewable to be clicked. If they are not seen you are wasting something, right? Hint – you spend it. In December 2014, Google released a study that showed that 56% of Ad Impressions are not even seen. So if ads are not even seen then can they generate the action you wanted viewers to take after viewing the ad? Not quite right? This is where Viewability helps you.

So how Viewability is defined?

IAB defines a viewable impression as an ad that meets the following criteria: 50% of the ad’s pixels are visible in the browser window for a continuous 1 second. For in-stream video ads, 50% of the ad’s pixels must be visible in the browser window for a continuous 2 seconds.

Why it is important?

According to a research from Google, users are more likely to click on viewable ads — up to 21 times more.


So how do you measure Viewability?

Viewability is tracked by your ad serving technology. Most of the modern major ad servers like DoubleClick Campaign Manager, Sizmek (MediaMind), AdWords (Google Display Network) and even DoubleClick Bid Manager are capable of measuring this metrics. These tools rely on a viewability enabled tag that loads along with the banner on publisher’s website. The viewability metrics are broken into:

viewability-chartEligible Impressions

In simple words it means all the impressions that were eligible to measure viewability. An ad is eligible under viewability metrics (1) if it is served along with viewability enabled tag and (2) after it loads on screen it successfully fires the viewability metric to ad server such as DoubleClick or Sizmek.

Measurable Impressions

Out of eligible impressions the total impressions that were measured by viewability technology or tag. A lot of technical factors may prevent an eligible impression to be counted as viewable like cross-domain iFrame setups on publisher website or the JavaScript DOM didn’t passed the ad size correctly and other reasons like these.

At a future date I’ll write another blog post on how to troubleshoot viewability numbers on publisher websites.

Viewable Impressions

The number of impressions out of measurable impressions that were actually viewed as per viewability definition above (50% of ad pixels were displayed on users screen for at least 1 second).

There are many factors that can affect viewability on a website and this Google Viewability Infographic touches on the most important ones.

Where do you get these numbers in your ad serving tools?

DoubleClick Campaign Manager (DCM) & DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM)


  • In DoubleClick Campaign Manager you can get this data under Reporting & Attribution > Custom Report Builder > Basic Report
  • In DBM you can get this data under Reporting > Create a New General Report

Select following metrics in the report builder.

– Active View: % Measureable Impressions
– Active View: % Viewable Impressions
– Active View: Eligible Impressions
– Active View: Measureable Impressions
– Active View: Viewable Impressions

Sizmek (Mediamind)

sizmek viewability

For your viewability enabled campaigns you can view this data under Analytics > Verification or Analytics > Report Builder modules.

Google AdWords


For your GDN Campaigns through Google AdWords you can select Viewability Metrics through going to Modify Columns > Performance (Active View) Tab.

How do you make use of this data to optimize your media buys?

Once you start collecting viewability data in your ad server than just don’t stop just there. Apart of measuring viewability at campaign level or an advertiser level it is super important to segment this metrics by publishers, by ad sizes, by device types and what not. Go ahead and correlate your viewable impressions with may be conversions to understand how it impacts your bottom line. Trust me, this is the only analysis that will help you do better display media buys and develop better creatives.

Example Viewability Analysis:


In above example we allocated 40% of total campaign budget to Site C and it delivered only 24% viewable impressions and in same campaign another publisher (Site D) with same budget allocation delivered 80% viewable impressions. So next time where do we allocate our budgets?

Go ahead and do similar analysis for Ad Sizes which will help you understand what are the best performing or not performing sizes. Save your creative development efforts and don’t develop your creative for sizes that don’t work.

Google’s research shows that Above the Fold is not equal to Always viewable and vertical ad units have better viewability.

You can do such analysis and improve the results for your marketing spends on display advertising. Viewability is certainly industry changing metric which is gaining popularity with every day. If you are still not considering this metric in your measurement strategy then you are missing something very important.

If you are not sure how to move forward in measuring this metric for your campaigns then you can contact me here.

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