Skip to Content

What will digital advertising look like when viewable impressions become the main currency for display and video advertising? This interactive demo illustrates how viewability is measured with Active View technology.

What is viewability? Viewability is a measure of whether or not an ad had a chance to be seen by a user. It gives marketers the base knowledge that their message was seen by a customer, and in digital, the actual number of times it appeared in front of users.

What is Active View? Active View is Google's viewable impression measurement technology. It's our solution for measuring and buying viewable impressions across the web and is accredited by the Media Ratings Council. It measures in real-time, on an impression-by-impression basis, whether or not an ad was viewable to a user. It's effortless, free and integrated into all of our advertising platforms and Active View metrics are fully transparent, based on the direct measurement of each impression, not sampling or extrapolating.

Why viewability matters? If an ad isn't seen, can it have impact, change perception, or build brand trust? Viewability in digital advertising is the first impression by impression measurement of advertising. It gives marketers a clear understanding of campaign and messaging effectiveness and allows advertising spend to be allocated to the most valuable media.

In December 2014, using Google's Active View technology, we found that 56% of all display ads didn't even have a chance to be seen! With a number like that, nothing else we do as advertisers matters.

What is the industry doing about it? In 2013, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Media Ratings Council (MRC) began an 18 month industry effort, working in sync with hundreds of major agencies, advertisers, publishers and technology providers (including Google) to develop a collective industry standard to measure "viewable" impressions.

On March 31, 2014, the Media Rating Council took the first step toward making viewable impressions a standard by lifting its advisory to refrain from transacting on viewable impressions as a digital advertising currency for display. The advisory for Video was lifted on June 30th, 2014.

What is the industry standard? And why is it important? At Google, we support the IAB and MRC definition of viewability for display advertising: a minimum of 50 percent of the ad is in view for a minimum of 1 second.

The role of a common currency, from the Gold Standard, to the U.S. dollar to the humble click, in spurring growth, investment, confidence and trade is undeniable. That's why the MRC viewability standard is so important. Without a common measurement method, it will be impossible to determine the true value of a viewed impression; create scale; or optimize, pace, and forecast inventory effectively.

Viewable Impressions - The next advertising currency So, what will digital advertising look like when viewable impressions become a currency in the future?

We see viewable impression counts built into ad serving measurement replacing served impressions as the base measurement for all campaigns. Viewability rates and discrepancies will no longer be an issue, and instead we'll only care about the number of measured, viewable impressions.

Advertisers will know how many times a creative was seen, making it easier to understand the true impact of their campaigns. They'll know which inventory provides the highest value and have confidence in the price they pay to deliver their messages. Publishers will have a clear picture of their best performing inventory and be able to optimize their site's ad experience maximizing the amount of viewable inventory on hand.

But the most significant change caused by viewability will be it's limiting effect on the seemingly endless supply of digital ads. Today this oversupply of inventory is a consequence of the current served impression measurement standard where there is no limit to the number of ads served on a single page.

The viewable impression currency will refocus digital advertising's promise of guaranteeing your message displayed in front of a prospective customer.

Want to experience how Google measures ad viewability? See Active View in action here