Google Says the Majority of Online Ads Are Never Viewed
The number of ads that Google runs on a daily basis is staggering. According to some sources, ad impressions from Google's display network end up totaling an unfathomable 24.17 billion per day, while impressions from Google Search total around 5.57 billion. This means that Google runs almost 30 billion ads every day.
Unfortunately, according to new Google research, over half of all these ads are never viewed by anyone. Some fundamental changes to the system may be needed before advertisers can be sure they're spending money on something that actually has a chance of being seen.
Viewability Surprisingly Low
If you feel like your online ads aren't getting you anywhere, you're probably not alone. Just last year, comScore reported that 46 percent of display ads are never seen. This statistic was up from 31 percent in 2012. Now, Google's Factors of Viewability infographic says that the exact percentage is 56.1. It's not just for Google ads, either. The study included information from DoubleClick as well.
An ad is considered "viewable" when 50 percent of its pixels are displayed on the screen for at least one second. As always, ad position and size play a role in whether or not they get seen. Online ads placed just above the fold - not at the top of the page - seem to get the most views. Unfortunately, ads above the fold still only see an average of 68 percent viewability (ads below the fold are seen at a rate of 40 percent). Vertical ads get much more viewability because they continue to be visible as a user scrolls. The ad size that was found to have the most views was 120 x 240.
Online ads are often missed by users simply because people scroll past them. Other common reasons for low viewability include failed ad delivery and ads being "viewed" by software bots.
In slightly good news, it was found that the average publisher's ads are viewed at a rate of 50.2 percent. This means that there are some publishers displaying so many non-viewable ads that they're skewing the overall ad viewability statistic by about 6 percent.
Advancements In Ad Tech Are In Progress
Of course, this has been a problem in the advertising world since its inception. You put the ad out there, but how can you tell if anybody actually saw it? Luckily for digital advertisers, Google and the internet as a whole may be moving toward a viewability-based payment system rather than one based on impressions. About a year ago, Google rolled out a CPM model based on their Active View technology. It only charges the user when their online ads are actually viewed. Also, Active View reporting became available to users of the DoubleClick network earlier this year. However, an entire industry shift will take time. The switch to veiwable impressions is being spearheaded by the Media Rating Council in an attempt to standardize measurements and transactions. In the meantime, advertisers will continue to pay close attention to their Google campaigns to assess if they're really getting any benefit from them.