The research, from MAGNA and IPG Media Lab in partnership with Moat, part of Oracle Data Cloud, and The Trade Desk, explored into the importance of viewability in performance-focused direct response campaigns.
The resulting report, Pulling Back the Curtain: Viewability & Direct Response, uncovers the impact of viewability on digital conversions, how the Media Rating Council standard compares with alternatives, and how direct response-focused advertisers should approach viewability when making buying and measurement decisions.
Key insights include:
- Both dimensions of viewability, ‘time in view’ and ‘percent on screen’, are strongly related to online conversions
- Non-viewable impressions can paint an inaccurate view of campaign performance
- Adding viewability data to attribution models more accurately attributes conversions
- There was a direct relationship between consumers who interacted longer with ads during exposure and conversion rates – the longer consumers interact with ads during exposure, the more likely they are to convert
- One campaign showed a 97% increase in conversions among consumers who engaged with the ad for four seconds
- Whether marketers use the U.S. MRC standard or another alternative, performance metrics are similar – both the percentage of impressions deemed viewable and the number of conversions that take place
- While in general the more impressions that meet the MRC standard, the better, it isn’t always the case. Viewability is only one of many factors related to campaign success – advertisers should balance the increased cost for optimizing on viewability with the increase in conversions they would likely gain
The report analysed viewability and engagement measures in display campaigns across various industries including pharmaceutical, consumer electronics, consumer packaged goods, and entertainment. A wide range of online conversions were captured, such as visiting an information page, signing up for a trial subscription, and online sales.
Areas of analysis throughout this study included:
- Viewability Measures:
- Time-In-View: Total sum of time creatives are on-screen for each consumer
- Percent-on-Screen: Average percent of pixels of a creative that are on-screen for each consumer
- Engagement Measures:
- Universal Interaction Rate: Whether a user interacts (hovers over) the ad for ≥.5 seconds
- Universal Interaction Time: Cumulative time that a user interacts (hovers over) the ad for ≥.5 seconds
- Viewability Standard:
- U.S. MRC Standard versus alternatives various other agencies implement
- Attribution Measurement:
- Multi-touch attribution with and without viewability data included
“While viewability is now considered table stakes in the industry, there are still many unanswered questions around how it should impact the way we buy and measure media” said Kara Manatt, SVP, Intelligence Solutions Strategy at MAGNA. “We were pleased to be able to dig so deep on the subject, particularly to uncover findings that validate our use of the MRC standard.”
“We’ve long known that the concept of viewability, the opportunity to be seen, is the starting point for effective advertising,” said Jonah Goodhart, SVP of Oracle Data Cloud and Co-Founder of Moat. “The in-depth research we did with MAGNA and recent research from Oracle Data Cloud and Facebook are helping us explore its impact. Viewability is the start of the conversation, but measures of attention, like interactions and time, appear to relate even more closely to campaign performance. The better we understand the relationships between exposure and outcomes, the more equipped we can be as an industry to make smarter decisions about our media and creative investments.”
The study found that increased viewability is, in fact, strongly related to increased conversions. More importantly, non-viewable impressions have the ability to paint an inaccurate picture of how campaigns perform. With the inclusion of viewability data, attribution models become “smarter” and place less importance and credit on non-viewable impressions.
Although viewability is critical for understanding how effective direct response campaigns are, the research did not confirm a specific threshold of “in-view” impressions advertisers should aim for in campaign planning. This is because viewability is not the only driver of campaign success.
“As consumers spend more time across screens, understanding the impact of viewability is even more crucial for campaign measurement and performance,” Kathleen Comer, VP of Client Services at The Trade Desk says. “Investing in understanding campaign viewability can help advertisers achieve a clearer picture of engagement and attribution.”
“This latest contribution to MAGNA and IPG Media Lab’s growing body of research on viewability once again demonstrates the important role viewability measurement plays in today’s digital advertising environment,” said David Gunzerath, Senior VP and Associate Director of the Media Rating Council. “It’s clear that having an understanding of how well a campaign has met industry viewability requirements is an essential element to assessing its performance and the ROI that’s associated with it, regardless of whether it’s a brand-focused or direct response campaign.”
Key Takeaways Include:
- Both dimensions of viewability, ‘time in view’ and ‘percent on screen’, are strongly related to online conversions. That is, consumers who were exposed to ads with higher viewability were more likely to convert.
- Non-viewable impressions can paint an inaccurate view of campaign performance. Furthermore, adding viewability data to attribution models more accurately attributes conversions.
- Whether marketers use the U.S. MRC standard or some other alternative, performance metrics are similar – both the percentage of impressions deemed viewable and the number of conversions that take place. This supports the use of an common standard across the industry.
- Other metrics, such as ad interaction, are positively correlated with conversions. Specifically, we observed a direct relationship between consumers who interacted longer with ads during exposure and conversion rates. For example, the longer consumers interact with ads during exposure, the more likely they are to ultimately convert at some point.
- One campaign showed a 97 percent increase in conversions among consumers who engaged with the ad for four seconds.
- While in general, the more impressions that meet the MRC standard, the better, that isn’t always the case. Viewability is only one of many factors related to campaign success. Advertisers should balance the increased cost for optimizing on viewability with the increase in conversions they would likely gain.
In conducting the media trial, more than 50 million display impressions were tracked across four campaigns on desktop and mobile web. Each campaign was running on The Trade Desk DSP for three months. Raw impression and conversion data, along with Moat viewability and attention data, were compiled and analyzed by MAGNA and the IPG Media Lab. In addition, Cadreon, the advertising technology specialist unit of IPG Mediabrands, was brought on as a partner to provide advanced multi-touch modeling to measure attribution with and without the inclusion of viewability data.