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An eye opening study this week released by Google on the state of the ad viewablity has startled advertisers. According to new research, the 5 Factors of Viewability, an estimated 56.1% of ads are not seen by human eyes. If you’re an advertising exec with a media spend, are you sure that you’re are being seen at all?

In its report, Google prefaces; “According to the Media Rating Council and IAB standards, a viewable impression occurs when 50% of an ad’s pixels are on screen for one second. The data used in this study are based on display ads in browsers (desktop and mobile) and does not include mobile in-app or video apps.”

Considering the minimum implementation of the IAB Standard results in ad impressions requiring measurement on the near-subliminal level, evidence that a large section of ad impressions are not even reaching this exposure level, or a time-frame of under 1 second, are startling. Will this report come as a call to action in changing industry expectation and standards?

The release of the data from Google, at this time is likely to increase concerns harboured by advertisers and publishers about the quality of the digital ad economy and its supply chains. The research was based on data generated from Google own Doubleclick ad server and its display network over October 2014.

Sanaz Ahari, Group Product Manager at Google wrote on the Doubleclickadvertiser official blog; “… we now know that many display ads that are served never actually have the opportunity to be seen by a user.”

Sanaz explains where these insights came from; “…In a recent study of Active View data by Google, we found that 56.1% of all ads served were not measured viewable. Yet, the average publisher’s viewability is 50.2%… This means a small number of publishers are serving the majority of non-viewable impressions and dragging down the served impression viewability average by almost 6%.

As is stated in the report slide titled “State of Publisher Viewability,” “56.1% of all impressions are not seen.” So, whilst the fact stated that the “unseen impressions” number the most, it seems it is this “small number of publishers,” that are in fact taking the biggest hit as per these new findings.

The state of viewablity is an important concern for Google, but where does importance of marrying up the inconsistencies of 1 long exposures being classed as impressions, and the dynamics of over/under fold movements?  The conclusion, regardless, is disconcerting. In many situations, some advertisers are potentially wasting half of their money with each media spend. If 56.1% of all impressions are being “served” but not actually seen by the end user, then where is the actual “impression” being impressed? Is your paid media having any effect on internet users, or are you satisfying end of year reports and number quotas? The state of the relationship between advertisers and Google ads is suffering a breach of trust insofar as “out of browser” impression generation remains a part of the wider, complex ad ecosystem.

To view the full research deck and see the figures for yourself go here.

Keep your eyes open for our next blog posts focusing on ad-viewability when we report on the dramatic rise of ad-blockers in 2014.

Feel free to tweet us with your thoughts to @iftweetr! Happy festive browsing.

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