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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Is it More Important to be Served or Seen? [Integrated Media Solutions]

ads servedIf a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Most of us have heard that saying before and it is that same premise that is creating a lot of buzz with respect to online display advertising this month. A recent comScore study found that roughly a third of online ads that are served are not viewed, and that those ads with a higher CPM do not necessarily mean that they are viewed more often. That study has a lot of people talking about served ads vs. viewed ads and the value of ads above-the-fold or below-the-fold.

The comScore study addresses some of the Making Marketing Make Sense (3MS) principles, specifically surrounding how display ads are served. The 3MSinitiative, a project developed by the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau), the ANA (Association of National Advertisers), and the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies), lays a framework for better digital measurement solutions in an effort to improve cross-platform comparisons. The first measurement 3MS outlined is shifting from a served impression standard to a viewed impression standard.

Switching to viewable impressions from the current served impression standard will help marketers reduce waste. For example, it has long been thought that the best page position on any site for display ads is above-the-fold, but the comScore study also deflates that notion. It found that some ads above-the-fold were not seen because they did not load before the user scrolled down to read content on the page, bringing more opportunity to the ads below-the-fold to be seen. This represents opportunity for online marketers as well as sellers of display advertising by placing more value on below-the-fold inventory.

The key is to know the format of the site and how the content is consumed on that site. If the majority of the traffic comes to a site to read articles and the below-the-fold banners are wrapped by the content on the page, those ads have a higher opportunity to be viewed by the user. Being able to place a higher value on below-the-fold inventory can easily translate into the opportunity for higher CPMs because of the content or where the ads are located on the page.

Marketers are increasingly asked to justify ROI, especially with respect to digital. Developing efficiencies and effectiveness is more important than ever. It may be sometime before the standard is changed from served to viewed impressions, but there are already pilot tests underway to help determine the impact of the solutions proposed by 3MS. After all, just because an impression is counted as served or delivered, doesn’t always mean it is viewed. 

Alina Diaz is a Senior Consultant at The Center for Sales Strategy.

Topics: setting expectations Digital selling digital advertising