Fighting for Premium Programmatic Part I: Viewability

Posted on by Katie Kerr, Marketing & Branding

viewability in programmatic

Despite programmatic being a nearly decade-old industry, it is still fraught with growing pains and misconceptions. Low viewability, fraud, ineffective targeting and more contribute to diminished campaign results. With a forecasted 80% of all digital display ads being bought programmatically this year, what can publishers and advertisers do to ensure that their ad dollars are being put to good use and that they’re getting an ideal programmatic experience?

In this three-part series, we’ll interview Kiip’s head of programmatic, James O’Connor, and head of data, Jonathan Collins, for a comprehensive take on the state of programmatic, pain points and pitfalls to avoid, and how to fine-tune your programmatic strategy in 2018.

In part I, we dive into viewability; what impacts it, why it matters, and how to improve visibility in your programmatic campaigns.


Why is viewability in programmatic such a problem? Typical campaigns report an average viewability of 40%.

James (Head of Programmatic): Mobile presents the biggest problem for viewability today. Large swaths of the industry’s mobile inventory is not measurable by the big viewability vendors. It’s not that the inventory has a low viewability score, it’s that the inability to measure is holding back media buyers and sellers from transacting in many instances. I’m looking forward to the roll out and adoption of the IAB’s Open Measurement SDK, which which should dramatically assist in improving the measurability of mobile inventory’s viewability.

Jonathan (Head of Data): The fact that roughly half of all media dollars go to messages that are never seen is obviously not good for advertisers.  But it is also not good for publishers or, ultimately, consumers. For publishers, CPMs are driven down across the board because advertisers need to offset the cost of non-viewable impressions against viewable ones.  For consumers, the more ads they are actually able to view will ultimately improve the ad experience for them across many devices.

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Why does viewability matter to you and the work you do?

James: Viewability matters to me for the same reason the rest of the industry cares about viewability. We want to create a healthy ecosystem where brands and agencies can purchase media which helps them accomplish their marketing goals. By eventually weeding out bad actors and cleaning up the supply chain, the publishers and vendors who remain will likely stand to capture more of the ad spend that was previously diverted to low viewability supply.

Jonathan: From a data perspective, a non-viewable message delivered to a particular consumer on any one channel can adversely affect the advertising experience for all consumers over time.  As the device graph matures, any lost touch point on any one device or channel represents a missed chance to generate more aggregate preferencial, behavioral, and intent data from brand engagements.  This data is ultimately used to present more relevant advertising to consumers across all channels so, when it is lost, that goal becomes harder to realize.


What impacts viewability?

Jonathan: For display, there are several factors including ad placement, size of the ad, the content associated with the ad (more engaging content means higher viewability), and the type of device.  For example, viewability for in-app placements is typically over 80% whereas web and mobile web placements are closer to 50%.

James: I completely agree with Jonathan on this one.


How can advertisers improve viewability?

Jonathan:  I would say two approaches can help.  The first is ensuring that the creative itself is as impactful and effective as possible within its given context.  The second is to use third party vendors such as MOAT, DV, or IAS to verify viewability and then actively optimize campaigns based on those results.

James: Again, I agree with Jonathan. Using effective creative and verifying viewability through a third-party vendor can help drastically improve viewability.

Read “Fighting for Premium Programmatic Part II: Fraud” here.

Learn more about partnering with Kiip programmatically and how you can achieve 95%+ Video Completion Rates here.

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