A new benchmarking report from Eyereturn suggests that Canadian desktop display inventory is substantially more likely to be viewable than the global average.
The report, presented at Thursday’s IAB X-Series: Metrics conference, looked at 300 million Canadian display impressions served in October and found that on average, 62% of measurable impressions met the Media Ratings Council’s criteria for viewability.
Both comScore and Google have found that U.S. average viewability is less than 50%, meaning that most display ads never have an opportunity to be seen by any consumer. Eyereturn said unlike ads in the U.S., most Canadian ads are viewable.
Eyereturn’s numbers aren’t necessarily apples-to-apples with U.S. benchmarks. The company used an older method of measuring viewability, known as the geometric method, which suffers the drawback that it can’t be used to measure ads in iFrames. As a result, the majority of impressions that Eyereturn looked at (53%) were not measurable. (This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not viewable — many publishers use iFrames for security reasons.)
Eyereturn VP of client services Ian Hewetson, who presented the study, said the company stuck with the geometric method for the study, since it is well-established, and provides a clear, consistent benchmark. Newer methods for viewability mesurement (often called “browser optimization” or “browser painting”) are not yet standardized, and measurement providers using them often report wildly discrepant viewability rates for the same campaigns.
“It’s important to note that the MRC still continues to certify vendors that only use the geometric method, so it is still considered a solid method,” said Hewetson.
In fact, Canada’s 53% unmeasurability rate is lower than the 60-65% average iFrame usage rate typically cited by global measurement firms.
“If you look at the major Canadian publishers — and it’s a very concentrated market — many of them actually do operate very transparently,” said Hewetson.
He said the discrepancies between measurement vendors have caused friction between agencies and publishers, who often use different measurement providers with different methodologies. When reporting on a campaign, a publisher’s provider may report a high level of viewability, while the agency’s provider reports a dissatisfyingly low level — making it difficult to evaluate the campaign’s performance or trade on viewability guarantees. The problem is compounded by the fact that the MRC has accredited more than a dozen viewability providers with very different ways of approaching measurement.
Hewetson said in the U.S., some publishers have begun adopting policies for reconciling viewability measurement. Fox News, for example, has a policy in place that the agency and publisher must select providers whose measurements are no more than 10 percentage points apart, and compare their measurements once each week.
Few studies of viewability have been done on display advertising in the Canadian market to date. In online video, TubeMogul has consistently found that Canada’s average viewability rate is higher than the global average.