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Are Your Ads Actually Seen by Your Target Audience?

  |  February 13, 2012   |  Comments

How comScore's new ad validation service works.

Are your ads actually seen by your target audience? That's the question that comScore sought to answer with its recent U.S.-based Charter Study. According to the study, a significant percentage of online ads delivered were never actually seen by the intended audience.

ComScore chartered this study in anticipation of the recent launch of its new product, Validated Campaign Essentials (vCE). This product is designed to help advertisers validate when, where, and how their ads are being served, and then optimize that campaign delivery.

The vCE solution monitors the delivery of ads and then assigns a score to the campaign based on validity of the impressions served. This has been coined the "vGRP" (validated GRP).

If you're running display ads and using any type of ad network or exchange - particularly blind ones - its vCE solution is intended for you. So here's the low-down on what it does, how it works, and how to get it.

What Need Does It Serve?

As the demand for online ad space/inventory increases, there are more and more secondary and tertiary markets for selling latent or vacant ad space. These are often called ad networks, ad exchanges, or demand-side platforms (DSPs). The quality of these offerings can vary greatly, resulting in high variance in terms of placement quality and raising questions around the validity of impressions delivered.

Oftentimes, this inventory can appear in less than desirable positioning such as further down on the page (below the fold), or alongside irrelevant and/or inappropriate content. This results in a relatively significant proportion of campaign ad impressions going unseen. Meaning the ad was "served" and an impression logged, but no one actually "saw" the ad.

Even an ad placed at the top of a page (above the fold) can go unseen if users scroll quickly down the page to get to content they are looking for.

ComScore conducted a study in December 2011 to quantify the impact of this phenomenon. It found:

  • 32 percent* of all delivered ads were never actually seen
  • One out of four ads delivered above the fold were never seen

Clearly, comScore identified an unmet need in the marketplace to address this issue.

What Does It Do?

ComScore's vCE solution is designed to help advertisers ensure their online ads are actually being viewed, and being viewed by the right audience, and served alongside the right content.

Their single validation measure - the vGRP - evaluates the campaign on five different criteria:

  • Visibility: Is the ad actually "viewed" (for one second or longer)?
  • Target audience: Is the ad served to the correct target audience (demo)?
  • Geography: Is the ad served to the correct market (geo-location)?
  • Brand safety: Is the ad served in a brand-safe/contextually appropriate environment?
  • Fraud: Were the impressions reported by the ad server actually served to "real" people and not exaggerated by fraudulent behavior?

The solution provides in-flight tracking of vGRP and real-time alerts to help advertisers and their agencies gain quick insights to quickly optimize campaign targeting and delivery.

How Does It Work?

Implementation of this solution is relatively simple. It involves the addition of a comScore tag on the ad units. ComScore works with all major ad servers, and provides applicable instructions for the advertisers' ad operations team to add the comScore tag. Campaign managers also assist to help ensure the process runs smoothly.

What Does It Cost?

The product is sold to advertisers, agencies, ad networks, publishers, and advertising technology companies. Pricing** is packaged differently by client. ComScore does not publicly disclose rates for this product but pricing is available from a comScore representative.


*This article has been updated. Due to a typo, an earlier version of this article stated an incorrect percentage. **The pricing information has been omitted; comScore said its disclosure violates its services agreement.


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Julie Batten

Julie is a member of the senior strategy team at Klick Health, focused on online media and digital. Julie initially established and led the media practice at Klick for several years, relinquishing leadership to expand beyond media into additional digital tactics. She brings a wealth of experience in search marketing, digital media, and all facets of digital strategy to bear, helping Klick's clients develop innovative digital solutions. As her role has evolved, so have her contributions to ClickZ, which she has been writing for since 2007.

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