ComScore Study Confirms What We Already Knew: You're Wasting Money on Ads No One Sees

Metrics Firm Releases Software to Track Display Ad Delivery

By Published on . 6

One of the not-so-secret realities of the display-ad world is that a decent chunk of online ads are never viewed by web visitors. They either appear below the dreaded fold, or a user scrolls past them before they load.

It's one of the main reasons that the ANA, 4A's and Interactive Advertising Bureau have partnered on their Making Measurement Make Sense plan: to create the "viewable impression" metric.

Today, ComScore announced it has developed measurement software it's calling Validated Campaign Essentials, which includes at its core an analysis of which ads in an online campaign were in-view (50% of the ad must be viewable for at least one second.)

The company said at an event this morning that it tested out the software over the last two months on campaigns for 12 big brands, including Kraft Foods, Ford, and Sprint. One of the key findings: 31% of the 1.7 billion ad impressions were never in view. The number is probably not a shock to many in the space, and is the main reason why so-called remnant inventory sells for a fraction of the space above the fold. But with this knowledge, advertisers can more accurately manage expectations and calculate ROI, said ComScore CEO Magid Abraham.

The software is also meant to track whether an ad is delivered to the target geography and whether it's delivered in a brand-safe environment, alerting an agency if the campaign is running off track. The study found that 72% of the campaigns had some ads running alongside content that wasn't "brand safe" -- an admittedly squishy term.

Mr. Abraham said the company was applying for accreditation with the Media Rating Council, something competitor RealVu has already received.

The software can only be used to track display ads on computers, and not on tablets or mobile phones, Mr. Abraham said.

The announcement received a mostly warm reception from a room full of agency and ad-tech execs. But there seemed to be a consensus from attendees who spoke publicly after the presentation that initiatives that shine a spotlight on online-measurement inefficiencies are just the first steps to mending an digital-ad pipeline that 's still fraught with deception.

"The digital supply chain, the connections between publishers and ad servers and SSPs and agencies,"said Jay Sears, senior VP-demand at Rubicon Project, "is broken."

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