Programmatic Insights

Viewability case study

By thumbad, posted on August 17, 2016

Viewability case study

What is Viewability

Viewability has been an increasingly talked about topic in the realm of digital advertising. Advertisers are being prudent when it comes to online spending and taking every measure possible to make sure their campaign reaches their target audience within a budget – no one wants money going down the drain and not hitting their goal.

Competition is not only fierce, in order to catch the user’s attention, but is also becoming a tough obstacle when plugins such as AdBlock come into play or how different ad units, browsers, ad placements (above, below or unknown the fold), vendors, screen sizes and measurements generate different viewability results.

No campaign is the same – advertisers must be willing to hear this statement. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but with various factors a client requests for a campaign, or even external influences will therefore set itself apart from the next.

With the majority of programmatic campaigns running as a Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA) setup, the industry finds itself struggling to attain a high viewability while staying within budget and managing a high Click-Through-Rate (CTR).

In 2013, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) reported that less than 54% of ads were not viewable and that the industry drastically needed to change this to improve viewability. The Media Rating Council (MRC) established viewable Cost-Per-Mille (vCPM) as a measuring standard to optimize budgeting and allow advertisers to have their content seen to their target market – improve viewability of ad content from approximately 30/40% to 70%.

Understanding The Difference

What is the difference between CPM and vCPM? vCPM is calculated by taking the eCPM and dividing it by the In-View Rate. Content measured as viewable is when at least 50% (30% for larger ads) or more of the ad is viewable on the screen for 1 second or longer (2 seconds for video). Thus, you only pay for ad impressions measured as viewable.

A display ad can be below the fold and the user might never scroll down to see it, or if the user lands on the page with the ad and immediately bounces off within less than 1 second. Within a CPM bidding format, the advertiser would have to pay for these aforementioned impressions.

vCPM might sound like an advertiser’s dream campaign strategy, but keep in mind it does not apply to all campaigns. Yes, you only pay for viewable, measured impressions, but you risk having to bid higher than a normal CPM strategy. Within a vCPM strategy, your bids are optimized to favor ad slots that are more likely to become viewable on publisher sites. For best practice, it is recommended to test with CPM and contrast with vCPM to gather results.


Our Experience

Where does that leave us? We, along with many other agencies and advertisers worldwide, have questioned the ability of acquiring high viewability results. We recently ran a campaign for a client in the electronic/computer peripherals data segment group and saw something exciting. We noticed viewability starting at almost 50% and then spiking up to 60-70%. But unlike a vCPM-based strategy, we ran a CPC campaign using a regular CPM approach. The graph shows it all, and the results were impressive.

case study graph

We optimized towards:

• Better ad placement on publisher websites – aggressive above the fold bidding without compromising budget

• Geo targeting in key urban locations in Norway where results proved positive • TOD and DOW where most activity was taking place

• Narrowing down on best performing creatives and websites

Is vCPM truly the answer to increase In-View Rates? Viewability is an industry-wide issue that has been ongoing for some years now, and this issue continues to linger to this date. The only way to overcome this, is if all members (publishers, agencies, marketers, etc.) work together to make measuring of viewability consistent. We believe that the measures we took to optimize towards viewability, without risking budget, were effective and led to a successful campaign for one of Norway’s largest electronics/computer peripherals company. ThumbAd can not only deliver main KPIs, but also improve branding measures by effectively targeting groups within the client’s segment.


“Viewable Ad Impression Standards Coming into Focus.” Audited Media. N.p., n.d. Web.
Mar. 2016. <>.

“Viewability Benchmarks Show Many Ads Are Not In-View but Rates Vary by Publisher.”
ComScore, Inc. N.p., n.d. Web. Mar. 2016.

Randall, Dave. “Sense & Viewability: It’s Time to Collaborate on Universally Accepted
Standards for Ad Effectiveness.” The Drum. N.p., n.d. Web. Mar. 2016.

Loechner, Tyler. “IAB: Marketers Should Aim for 70% Viewability in 2015.” MediaPost. N.p.,
n.d. Web. Mar. 2016. <>.

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