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Uh-Oh, A Third of Your Display Ad Impressions Are Worthless! Here’s What to Do About It

November 26, 2013
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AdWords Tips

Google Rolls Out Active View Metrics & Viewable Bidding to Counter Worthless Display Ad Impressions

Google seems to be in the process of (finally) launching Active View features average CPM, viewable CTR and viewable impressions. I say “seems to be” as they have not yet made an official announcement, and no supporting material (i.e., help documentation) is yet available.

This is an important change because traditional impression-based bidding charges advertisers based on served  display ad impressions – a misleading figure, since, according to comScore, 31% of display ads are never actually seen by users. These features go some way toward correcting that shortcoming on the Display Network.

Viewable CPM bidding allows advertisers to optimize their bids so ads appear in slots more likely to be viewable, while Active View allows advertisers to pay only for clicks or impressions on display ads that are “viewable,” meaning at least 50% of the ad has been on screen for one second or more. That benchmark is key because ads that are viewable for at least one second have, on average, 70-93% greater CTRs and 70-88% higher conversion rates than regular ads, Google shared (based on their internal data).

Google has been working on Active View, their measurement solution to detect viewable display ad impressions, for at least a couple of years. In April this year, they finally won the approval of the Media Rating Council, by way of accreditation for the viewable impressions standard they hope will become a “universal currency” for advertisers.

In addition to its adherence to the 3MS standard, Google says Active View also considers account events that affect the viewability of the page where your ad appears, including browser scroll or resize. “Since we can tell when an ad appears on screen, advertisers only have to pay for these viewable impressions,” they shared on the Google Think Insights website.

Here’s what it looks like within the AdWords dashboard:

Display Ad Impressions

Certainly, those using display ads for brand awareness or recognition will find this a welcome option, though WordStream Founder Larry Kim points out that many are still better off optimizing display ads for conversions or clicks, rather than viewable impressions. “If your ads weren’t seen, they can’t be clicked on or generate conversions,” he notes.

Google itself advises, “If you want to measure performance on the Display Network, we recommend focusing on metrics such as conversions and ROI.”

If you are after impressions, Kim says, you might as well ignore average position. According to Google, “Average position may be less useful in optimizing for performance on the Google Display Network because of the diversity of websites on this network.” This is their way of saying nicely, Kim notes, that average position is near useless, as even the first position might be below the fold, depending on the site.

Active View has been available on Reserve Inventory on Google Display throughout their beta testing period with a select group of advertisers. The new options are available in at least some AdWords accounts, though we cannot confirm whether it is available to all users, or outside of the US.

Are you seeing Active View options in your AdWords account? Share your thoughts about these new bidding options and metrics in the comments.

Hat tip to Kim Clinkunbroomer of Philly Marketing Labs, who noticed and blogged about the new features late last week.

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