Why Advertisers are Missing out on Valuable Impressions
The display advertising process has been pretty consistent over recent years. Advertisers like Coca-Cola, AT&T, and State Farm Group plan and buy available advertising space on publisher websites. The planning and buying is conducted by someone in-house or an outside advertising agency or independent marketer is brought in to facilitate. The use of an advertising platform usually follows and serves to disperse the actual ad units across various web properties for people to consume. People then have the choice to view and click-through on an ad depending on how enticing the offer or messaging is. What happens if an ad unit is not served and people don’t have the opportunity of reacting to it because it simply did not appear? That’s precisely what comScore revealed in their U.S. Digital Future in Focus 2013 report.
Of the trillions of online display ad impressions (instances of an ad being displayed) delivered in 2012, comScore disclosed that three in ten ads are never seen. This means advertisers are missing out on valuable opportunities to promote their brand, products, services or social causes. What causes missed impressions?
Ad Unit Standards
Advertisers, or the creative talent they hire, typically handle the creation of ad units. The challenge here is that the ad unit formats vary significantly and not everyone (advertisers, marketers, advertising networks) abide by the same guidelines. Ad units have come a long way from the traditional static web banner to include immersive and interactive in-ad experiences designed to entice action. Regardless of how hard entities like the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) push for streamlined and cutting-edge formats that parallel consumer electronics and web usage trends (see their Rising Stars Display Ad Units), the adoption of a single set of standards across the entire advertising spectrum is simply not happening. It’s moving in that direction, just at a slow pace.
Inadequate Ad Vetting and Verification
The advertising real estate is no longer limited to websites. We now have apps, videos and smart TVs to account for. Those that deliver ads are faced with having to vet and verify every single placement in real-time and across various screens. Aside from the device type, advertising technology providers must ensure ads are placed in context and on brand safe properties, avoiding objectionable web content like porn and hate speech in addition to compromised or malicious websites. These factors make for a difficult requirement of online advertising platform providers.
People continue crossing over between desktop PCs and mobile devices. Some have multiple devices running at once and each device comes with its own set of intricacies. Web browsers also come in all sorts of colors and flavors and it seems like new versions are released every couple of month’s even though prior ones are not optimized to their full potential. A PC browser does not function like that on a mobile device and the user experience differs as well. Add the extra layer of complexity from apps and the end result becomes evident real quick – ad units do not overlap seamlessly.
Actual On-Page Ad Placement
There's a term in the marketing world referred to as "the fold." The fold can be thought of as an imaginary line that separates the natural viewing area on a screen and the part of a web page that requires some scrolling to view. When an ad is placed "below the fold," for instance, it will be out-of-view. Available advertising space can vary significantly on websites and not all placements are above the fold. Also, there's no guarantee that users will scroll down to view an ad anyway. This can also lead to missed impressions for an advertiser.
The aforementioned are only a small sample of reasons why ads may not get displayed. The blame game should not come in to play whatsoever. The online advertising industry is fighting to keep pace with the rapidly evolving digital ecosystem. Technological innovation will continue, and as the industry become smarter, these challenges will become more predictable and manageable in the near future.
Are you an advertiser, marketer, agency or advertising technology provider? If so, what other reasons can you think of for ad units not being displayed? Please comment below.
Click to view comScore’s U.S. Digital Future in Focus 2013.