Marketers and Publishers Find Common Ground on Hot-Button Topic: Viewability

Digital ad spending in the U.S. is expected to reach $60 billion this year, on its way to overtaking TV by 2018. But its ascendancy isn’t assured. One insidious problem threatens to undermine this growth: Up to half of all display ads are never actually seen by humans — not because consumers don’t notice them, but because they can’t be seen. These are ads that never appear on a consumer’s screen, or show up too fleetingly to register, but advertisers still pay for.

This issue is referred to broadly as viewability. Though it has dogged digital media for years, chief marketing officers are now paying attention — and they’ve put everyone in the digital ecosystem on alert: Clean things up or we’ll spend our money elsewhere.

As one result, a cottage industry of companies now measures viewability — simultaneously providing new insight and starting new disputes by giving differing results.