The Bad, The Ugly, The Very Ugly

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The Truth about Ad Viewability and Ad Fraud in Africa (and the World).

Much has NOT been said about the current state of Ad Viewability across the South African and African Media industries. The question is “Why not?” as it is one of the most important considerations for improving marketing performance is through improving media efficiencies with globally accepted measurement standards.

While most of the research into ad viewability is dedicated to Digital media, this question also needs to be extended to the broader media industry, since with technologies like PVR’s for TV and QR codes for print – media efficiency will only improve when Marketers ask these difficult questions.

Ad viewability is a metric that measures whether an ad was actually visible to a viewer.


Currently on average 50% of global digital ads including PC, Mobile and Video are not 100% viewable.


Ad Fraud is the consuming of advertising impressions from non-human sources.
Fraud accounts for 11% of display ads & 23% of video ads and is worth $6 Billion of 15% of global ad spend a year. (2014 Trustworthy Accountability Group (Omnicom, Mondelez, Yahoo, Google, Facebook & AOL).

The non-profit association the Media Rating Council (MRC) was established in 1964 and the MRC Board consists of 145 members from TV, Radio, Outdoor, Print, Digital & Agencies.
The mission of the MRC is to secure for the media industry and related user audience measurement services that are valid, reliable and effective.

Currently the MRC’s global viewability standard for Digital Display is 50% of an ad needs to be view for 1 second and for Digital Video 50% of an ad needs to be in view for 2 seconds.

In total there are 18 Accredited viewability vendors  and the MRC states that it will be “reasonable” to expect a 5-10% variation among vendors.

In September 2015, Mobile viewability was under 50%, no organisations have been accredited by the MRC for mobile viewability measurement. For mobile the MRC introduced an “ad loading” metric which states that 25% of ads need to be in view for 1 second on both web and app mobile platforms. Publishers are rushing to optimise their sites for viewability accreditation for mobile. Good mobile formats that receive 70%+ for viewability are Native, Mobile Video and Native Video. Comparably these formats receive a 50% viewability on PC’s.

In April 2014, the MRC officially adopted viewability as the new transaction currency, replacing ‘served’ impressions with ‘viewable’ impressions. The biggest benefactor from this change are brand campaigns which globally represents 42% of all digital spend. In South Africa and Africa very few media practitioners (sales and agencies alike) are considering viewability of impressions in their reporting and this needs to change for brands.

According to the global IAB, publishers cannot compete for brand dollars if they cannot count viewability impressions. Furthermore Brand impact studies had higher scores when publishers measured viewable impressions versus those that only measured served impressions.

To summarise digital ad viewability findings and to provide guidelines and benchmark for South African and African Media and Marketing professionals:

  1. Ads with a 70%+ Viewability have significant higher performance across all measured impressions.
  2. Viewability increases with more Interactive Ad Formats.
  3. Mobile and PC friendly HTML5 Improves Viewability.
  4. Mobile Ad sizes are more viewable than Desktop Ad sizes.
  5. Ads Served directly to Publishers increases viewability more than ads served programmatically.


The saying goes ‘Put your money where your mouth is’, in the case of brand marketers the saying should be ‘Put your budget where the eyes are’.


Marketing performance in the future will positively be impacted by viewability.
For now only Digital media is offering this measurement but in the future all media channels will measure viewability in one form or another.

With this attention to detail a brand will be transformed by having a Good Budget, Better Brand Metrics & the Best Sales.

Yours in Measurable Marketing,

Will Green

Sources: MRC (,, Yahoo Advertising, Trustworthy Accountability Group (, Sizmek Global Viewability Benchmark 2015 (