Impressions that don’t impress

Written by Chris Werner. Posted in Shark News

We read with great interest the other day a white paper from RealVu which made the simple yet obvious case that “an impression that doesn’t appear in the viewable area of the screen will not be seen and will not leave any impression on the viewer.” It is easy to conclude therefore that not all impressions are equal and that those which are – for lack of a better term ‘invisible’ to the consumer having no value whatsoever.

Well that sure complicates things digital doesn’t it?

There appears to be a larger percentage of ads never being shown to consumers. And this is not as simple as being ‘above the fold’ (ATF) or ‘below the fold.’(BTF). A common newspaper idiom. The accepted notion of ATF and BTF and the value attached to each doesn’t even begin to get at all the complexity of whether an ad becomes valuable. It is possible for an ad at the top of the page to be just as invaluable as one at the bottom – well BTF. Hence there is little value in trying to plan around this perception of a ‘fold’ in the digital space.

There are a number of reasons why ads are not viewed many involving activities carried out by the viewer. It also appears that publishers have a fair amount of control over viewable impressions with some of that control being attributed to publisher’s actions. How to improve your banner’s likelihood of being viewed is for another time.

So were we to change the environment and change the measurement of an impression affects all measurement elements including pricing and value measures (i.e. click thru rates and RAF) but what is unmistakable is that movement to viewable impressions will have a dramatic effect on CPMs.

In the study cited by RealVu we learn that a “premium” site, estimated to have the highest traditional CPM when measured against viewable CPM and compared to a multi-site buy or an ad network (essentially an ROS schedule) actually has the most efficient cost outcome. A simple case of you get what you pay for?

Once we solidify the ability to measure and report viewable impressions we need to add an element of engagement. Much like radio stations with a high level of TSL (Time Spent Listening) are more beneficial for some ad campaigns so to would be an ad ‘carrier’ with high TSV (Time Spent Viewing.) Whether the impact of Time Spent Viewing has a greater advertising effectiveness is unknown, suffice to say that a view for a longer period of time suggests there is a greater likelihood that it will be noticed and thus have an impact on the consumer.

For now let us agree that a viewable impression delivers more value and has a higher strategic advantage. And let us seek to move to that basis for determining price value and as a baseline of measuring digital performance.


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