Is the UK’s display viewability really in decline?

  • October 17, 2016

Is the UK’s display viewability really in decline? by Oliver Hayward

Earlier this year, ad solutions provider Meetrics released a report that looked into the current state of online ad viewability in the UK and claimed it was at its lowest level in 18 months.

The study suggests that online ad viewability levels took a drastic slump from 54% to 47% in the second quarter of 2016; leaving the UK lagging behind other European countries.

Many analysts and industry leaders have cited that an increase in programmatic buying of ads has been a significant cause of the decrease in viewability levels.

But is the UK really falling behind when it comes to viewability and how can we address this issue to ensure higher levels of viewability?

It may be higher

By simply looking at our own data we have seen that display campaigns in the UK came out higher than the rest of the industry by more than 38%.

Using Integral Ad Science’s recently published H1 benchmarks as a comparison, over 40 million impressions were analysed and we saw the UK campaigns achieved an overall viewability level of 79%.

This is an increase from 2015, when viewability levels were at 58%.  

Based on this data and Integral Ad Science’s Media Quality Report 2016 which states “the overall trend highlights that there is improvement in viewability from 2015”, we would have to argue that the UK’s level of viewability isn’t in decline and we’re sure there are others with their own data which would point in the same direction.

The UK needs to continue to work together as an industry to work on improving organic viewability levels whilst still achieving the right results for their clients

European viewability rates have long thought to be below par for some time.

However, the industry is working towards improving this as more and more publishers are starting to re-design their sites to make them more viewable.

As more publishers lean to adopt this approach we could see viewability levels increase upwards for the industry as a whole.

‘At a crossroads’ 

However, despite what Meetrics’ research suggests, I don’t believe the viewability levels for the UK are in decline as we continue to see digital campaigns achieve high levels of viewability.

Yet, even if some are experiencing a decline in viewability levels, the industry is currently at a crossroads with how much emphasis is placed on it as an overall KPI.

Whilst it is currently one of the most prominent methods of showing a client ROI, the debate of engagement versus viewability rages on; a debate that is only intensified by the lack of ability to measure engagement.

So how can the industry work together to ensure the levels of viewability don’t decline in the UK? The Meetrics report found that Austria in particular was seeing high levels of viewability which could be down to their recent agreement by many publishers to move to billing by impression.

So it’s hardly surprising that there has been a surge in viewability following such a drastic move.

Whilst this initiative seems to be working, it seems unlikely that the UK would adopt this method in the near future due to publishers’ hesitation and unpreparedness.

Instead, the UK needs to continue to work together as an industry to work on improving organic viewability levels whilst still achieving the right results for their clients.