Analysis: Google’s 5 Factors of Viewability

Attention marketers, especially those who use Google. If you missed it, the tech giant released an infographic about the 5 factors of viewability for display advertising. It’s a pretty big deal and provides some great information that’s applicable beyond the Google Display Network.

Let’s take a look at exactly what this means for you and how you can improve your digital advertising performance.


First of all, we need to take a second to define our terms.

Viewability Rate: Percentage of ads determined viewable out of the total ads measured.

There is also an industry standard for viewable impressions for digital advertising. As defined by the Media Rating Council, a viewable impression is when 50% of an ad’s pixels are in view on the screen for a minimum of one second.

This is the standard used by Google, Yahoo, Bing, and even Randall-Reilly.

1. Viewability Rate

Now to the study!

Google found that 56.1% of all impressions are not seen, but the average publisher viewability is 50.2%. This means that your audience is only visually registering about half of your ads on the display network.

That sounds like bad news, but really it’s not. We’ve known that banner ads aren’t always seen by audiences, regardless of where they’re showing up or how prominently displayed they are. It’s unfortunate, but ok.

They’re still effective, and there are always ways to improve your performance.

2. Page Position Matters

We all know page position matters. But it may be a little different than what you’re thinking. Where do you think the most viewable position on a webpage is?

If you answered at the top of the page, you’re wrong.

According to Google, the most viewable position is right above the fold, whereas traditional understanding of audience banner ad interaction would be at the top of the page. This doesn’t exactly change your strategy, but it is still good information.

3. Don’t Forget Ad Size

What Google released concerning ad sizes also flies in the face of traditional wisdom, but can directly affect your strategy. The most viewable ad sizes are vertical units. This seems surprising, but it’s less so considering they stay on screen longer as users move around a page.

In case you wondered, the most viewable rates by ad size are . . .

  1. 120×240
  2. 240×400
  3. 160×600
  4. 120×600

4. Fold and Viewability Rates

The average viewability rate for an ad above the fold is 68% and below the fold is 40%. While page position doesn’t always indicate great viewability, it does give you a better understanding of how you can expect your ad to perform.

You also need to make sure you are building ads which present great offers, great visuals, and multiple sizes. This will help your ads stand out and improve performance regardless of where it is on a page.

The key is not to place too much faith into evaluating based on a single factor.

5. Industry Viewability

Every industry is a little bit different. People consume media in different ways, they use online media differently, and they even pay more or less attention to ads. This plays into how well your ads are performing across all of your channels.

According to their infographic, Google found that the Business and Industrial industries viewability rate is around 47.2%. While that sounds bad, it’s actually a middle of the road statistic. This is compared to a maximum of 51.9% for reference and a minimum of 44.8% for hobbies and leisure.

You need to remember to incorporate multiple channels into your campaigns. You can’t rely on a single channel to provide all of your web traffic or lead generation.

By using multiple channels, you can improve your advertising performance regardless of your department goals.

Google is a guarded corporation. They’re very secretive about their products, so it’s a big deal anytime they release new information about the Display Network or SEO. While this may not be game-changing, this information can still provides deeper insight into their Display Network and can help you improve your performance.

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