The industry needs a more complete picture of mobile ad viewability

Babak Pahlavan / June 2017

To date, the industry has relied on multiple software development tools, which is costly and inefficient. That’s why the IAB Tech Lab Coalition for Open Measurement is promoting a single-source solution, says Google’s Senior Director of Product Management Babak Pahlavan.

Mobile advertising is booming—but the industry’s approach to measuring viewability of mobile ads hasn’t kept up.

At Google, we’re committed to free and open measurement, which is why we’ve signed on as a founding member of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Tech Lab Coalition for Open Measurement to promote a single-source solution. Led by the IAB Tech Lab, this coalition of industry leaders will move the industry toward greater mobile ad viewability.  

“Streamlining mobile viewability is crucial to achieving scale,” said Alanna Gombert, executive director of the IAB Tech Lab. “This single-source solution will not only benefit publishers and advertisers, but will greatly improve the user’s experience too.”

Getting the complete picture

As more people turn to mobile devices for answers to everyday needs, savvy marketers are channeling budgets into engaging customers on mobile. The success of these campaigns relies on accurate data. Advertisers need to know when and where a consumer sees one of their ads, but publishers can only measure a fraction of their mobile inventory. 

To date, publishers looking to provide viewability data have to integrate multiple Software Development Kits (SDKs) from numerous providers. This is costly, time consuming, provides limited data, and creates a poor user experience. To add further complexity, different SDKs use different implementations, resulting in inconsistent reporting.

For marketers to effectively reach their mobile audience, they need a more complete picture of their ad viewability.

At Google, we’ve long advocated for an industry-standard viewability metric. And we support the IAB and Media Rating Council (MRC) definition of viewability: A minimum of 50% of an ad must be in view for a minimum of one second for display ads or two seconds for video ads. 

In 2012, we introduced Active View, our viewability measurement solution. We’ve since made the Google Display Network (GDN) 100% viewable by moving to viewable CPMs, which allows advertisers to buy only viewable impressions across video and display ads on the web and in apps. We’ve also worked to ensure viewability rates on YouTube are among the industry’s highest. Globally, YouTube viewability grew to an industry-leading 93% in 2016.1 And we’ve added Active View targeting, optimization, and reporting in Google Marketing Platform,2 including supplementary metrics like the ability to see average viewable time.

For advertisers to effectively reach their mobile audience, they need a more complete picture of their ad viewability.

Better viewability comes with big benefits

A single-source solution for mobile ad measurement benefits everyone.

Advertisers get a more complete picture of their mobile campaign performance, thanks to better viewability signals. Publishers benefit from reduced development time and cost, while the simplified sales process streamlines deal negotiations. And with the data to prove return on investment, publishers can also put more inventory into premium categories that demand a higher yield.

There’s also a consumer benefit. Without the need to run multiple SDK verifications, ads and pages load faster, leading to greater engagement among users.

Without the need to run multiple SDK verifications, ads and pages load faster, leading to greater engagement among users.

Paving the way

This coalition brings the industry much closer to achieving full viewability on mobile campaign performance.

Publishers and advertisers play a crucial role in this movement. Publishers can participate by measuring their inventory using the single-source SDK—it’s a foundation that can power any vendor’s measurement tools, including Active View. And advertisers can leverage Google’s free, comprehensive, and actionable measurement solutions like Brand Lift and viewable CPM buying.

At Google, we’ll continue to push early product innovation toward a holistic viewability measurement across screens. Working together with the industry, we believe we can achieve better outcomes for publishers, advertisers, and consumers.

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