Half a second. That’s the industry standard for measuring a display ad view. This time span may sound incredibly short but many display ads are not being seen by their intended audiences at all. And this problem is prompting marketers to take action.

Online display ads can come into view through a variety of sources. AdSafe, which studies this topic and reported its findings in the 2011 Semiannual Review survey, says that the not-in-view ad rate varies by delivery method as these numbers show:

  • Publishers 24.9%
  • Networks 42.4%
  • Platforms/exchanges 46.4%

On average, about 69% of ad impressions qualify as in-view while the remaining 31%, which are delivered, are not seen by consumers.  This often occurs when a consumer scrolls down the page before the ad is loaded or is the result of technology complications such as navigation layers or browser sizes.

The length of time an ad is in-view is an industry measure of engagement. AdSafe analysts have found that content sites outperform utility sites with respect to how long an ad is in-view. There is also variability among these sites. For example, ads on religion/spirituality sites tend to be in view for over 5 seconds. The sports sites in-view statistics, over 4 seconds, is longer than ad in-view lengths on news sites, 3 seconds. The lowest scoring statistic goes to style and fashion sites with a paltry .025 seconds in-view. Perhaps that low number is linked to the length of time required for many browsers to load image and video-dense pages.

In determining where to place display ads, marketers also try to avoid appearing next to what they consider to be high-risk content. This includes offensive language (think Rush Limbaugh), items related to drugs and alcohol or illegal downloads.  Marketers are most likely to encounter problem content on platform exchanges where there is a high or very high risk at least 8.4% of the time. But publishers and networks aren’t very high behind with risky content appearing 7.5% and 6.1% of the time, respectively.

Going forward, marketers are likely to pay close attention to display ad metrics and to take steps to improve their performance.

[Source: 2011 AdSafe Semiannual Review. Adsafemedia.com. February 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2012]