Ad viewability is a critical metric in digital advertising that measures whether an ad is actually seen by users. Understanding and improving ad exposure can significantly impact the effectiveness and ROI of ad campaigns. This guide explores what ad viewability is, why ad viewability is important, how to measure it, and the role of ad verification proxies in ensuring high viewability rates.


  • What is Ad Viewability? Ad viewability measures whether ads are actually seen by users, requiring a specified percentage of pixels to be visible for a set duration.
  • Why is Viewability Important? High viewability enhances ROI, builds advertiser trust, and ensures efficient ad spend by making sure ads are noticed by the target audience.
  • Video Ad Viewability: Video ads need at least 50% visibility for two continuous seconds to be considered viewable, crucial for user engagement and brand recall.
  • How to Measure Ad Viewability: Key metrics include viewability rate, average time in view, quartile viewability rate, viewable CPM, and burned budget.
  • Role of Ad Verification Proxies: Proxies simulate real user environments, detect fraud, provide continuous monitoring, and enable geo-targeted verification to ensure accurate viewability measurements.

What is Ad Viewability?

Ad viewability refers to the proportion of an advertisement that is visible to users on their screens. For an ad to be considered viewable, a specified percentage of its pixels must be in the user’s viewport for a minimum duration of time. Industry standards, such as those set by the Media Rating Council (MRC), typically define a viewable display ad as having at least 50% of its area visible for at least one second. For video ads, at least 50% of the ad must be visible for at least two continuous seconds.

ad viewability illustration - icon.

Why is Viewability Important?

In digital advertising, just having an ad displayed isn’t enough; it must also be seen by users. That is why optimizing ad viewability is critical:

A. Imapact On ROI

Ad viewability plays a critical role in digital advertising by ensuring that your ads actually get seen, which directly impacts your ROI. For instance, if you run a campaign and most of your ads go unseen, your investment doesn’t yield any returns. High viewability rates correlate with increased engagement and conversions, which means your ads make a real impact.

B. Building Trust Between Advertisers and Publishers

Building trust between advertisers and publishers also hinges on ad viewability. When advertisers know that their ads have a high chance of being seen, they feel more confident in allocating budgets to those publishers/ad platforms. For example, a publisher like Google or Amazon with high viewability rates can attract premium advertising partners, creating a win-win scenario.

C. Ad spend efficiency

Ad spend efficiency is another crucial aspect. Effective viewability ensures that every dollar spent on advertising goes towards placements with a higher probability of being noticed. This translates to better resource allocation and maximized ad performance. Imagine running an ad that only a fraction of your audience can see—your ad spend would essentially go to waste.

Icon of a smartphone displaying video ads, representing video ad visibility and viewability.

Video Ad Viewability

Video ad viewability refers to how much of a video ad is actually seen by users. Unlike display ads, which are measured based on the percentage of the ad that is visible for a specific duration, video ads require different criteria. For a video ad to be considered viewable, at least 50% of its pixels must be visible on the screen for a minimum of two consecutive seconds.

Measurement Differences:

  • Display Ads: Measured by the visibility of at least 50% of the ad for one second.
  • Video Ads: Require at least 50% visibility for two continuous seconds to be counted as viewable.

Importance Of Ad Viewability for Video Ads

  • Viewer Engagement: Video ads need to capture and maintain user attention to convey their message effectively. High viewability ensures that more of the ad is seen, increasing the chances of viewer engagement.
  • Brand Recall: Studies have shown that higher viewability correlates with better brand recall. When users see more of a video ad, they are more likely to remember the brand and its message.

Example: If a video ad is viewable for at least the first few seconds, users are more likely to engage with the content and retain the information presented, leading to a stronger impact on brand recognition and campaign effectiveness.

How To Measure Ad Viewability?

Measuring ad viewability is crucial for understanding how effectively your ads are being seen by real users. Here’s an in-depth look at the tools, technologies, and techniques used to measure it:

Ad Viewability Measurement Tools

Several tools and technologies are designed to measure ad viewability, ensuring that ads are actually seen by the target audience:

  • V6proxies Residential Ad Verification IP Addresses: By simulating real user environments, proxies provide precise viewability measurements. 
  • Google Ad Manager: Google Ad Manager offers comprehensive tools for tracking ad viewability. It uses Active View technology to measure ad viewability. Active View provides metrics such as viewable impressions and average viewable time. It ensures ads meet industry standards for viewability, helping advertisers understand which ads are actually seen by users. 
  • Moat by Oracle Data Cloud: Moat by Oracle Data Cloud offers detailed analytics on ad viewability and attention metrics. It measures not only whether ads are viewable but also how much attention they receive, providing insights into user engagement.
  • Integral Ad Science (IAS): IAS focuses on delivering quality impressions by measuring visibility, brand safety, and ad fraud. Their tools provide detailed insights into how often ads are viewable and in what contexts, ensuring ads meet quality standards. 
  • DoubleVerify: DoubleVerify measures authentic impressions by ensuring ads are seen by real people in the intended environment. They provide metrics such as viewable rate, fraud protection, and brand safety verification.
  • Comscore: Comscore’s validated Campaign Essentials (vCE) solution measures ad viewability across various platforms, providing metrics such as in-view rate and average time in view. It helps advertisers ensure their ads are seen by the target audience.

Ad Viewability Measurement Techniques & Metrics

Measuring ad viewability is crucial for understanding the effectiveness of your advertising efforts. Here are some key techniques and metrics used to measure it:

1. Viewability Rate

The viewability rate is one of the fundamental metrics in ad viewability. It is calculated by dividing the number of viewable ads by the total number of ads served. This metric helps advertisers identify which ad formats and placements are most effective in reaching their audience.

  • Calculation: Viewability Rate = (Number of Viewable Impressions / Number of Served Impressions) * 100
  • Importance: By understanding the viewability rate, advertisers can optimize their ad placements and formats to ensure maximum visibility. For instance, ads placed above the fold are more likely to be viewable compared to those placed at the bottom of the page.

Example: If an advertiser serves 10,000 ads and 7,500 of them are viewable, the viewability rate is 75%. This helps the advertiser understand that a significant portion of their ads is being seen by users, indicating effective placement.

2. Average Time in View

The average time in view metric measures the average duration that an ad remains visible on the screen. This provides insights into how long users are exposed to the ad content.

  • Calculation: Average Time in View = Total Time Ads Were Viewable / Number of Viewable Impressions
  • Importance: This metric helps advertisers understand user engagement with their ads. Longer average view times generally indicate higher engagement and better ad performance.

Example: If the total viewable time for ads is 30,000 seconds for 10,000 viewable impressions, the average time in view is 3 seconds. Advertisers can use this information to adjust their ad content and placement strategies to increase user engagement.

3. Quartile Viewability Rate

The quartile viewability rate is particularly useful for video ads. It tracks the percentage of the video that remains viewable at different intervals, typically 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%.

  • Calculation: Quartile viewability rates are measured at four points during the video: 25% (first quartile), 50% (second quartile), 75% (third quartile), and 100% (fourth quartile).
  • Importance: This metric helps advertisers understand how users engage with video content and where they might lose interest. It is crucial for optimizing video ad performance and ensuring that the core message is delivered effectively.

Example: If a video ad has a 75% quartile viewability rate, it means that the majority of users watched at least 75% of the video. This insight can guide the placement of key messages within the video to maximize impact.

4. Viewable CPM (vCPM)

The viewable CPM (cost per thousand viewable impressions) metric calculates the cost of serving viewable impressions. It allows advertisers to compare the efficiency of different ad placements.

  • Calculation: vCPM = (Total Spend / Number of Viewable Impressions) * 1,000
  • Importance: vCPM helps advertisers understand the cost-effectiveness of their ad campaigns. It focuses on the cost of impressions that were actually viewable, providing a more accurate measure of campaign efficiency.

Example: If an advertiser spends $5,000 and achieves 200,000 viewable impressions, the vCPM is $25. This helps the advertiser assess the cost per viewable impression and optimize their budget allocation accordingly.

5. Burned Budget

The burned budget metric shows the amount of ad spend wasted on ads that were not viewable. It highlights areas where budget optimization is needed.

  • Calculation: Burned Budget = Total Spend – (vCPM * Number of Viewable Impressions)
  • Importance: This metric is crucial for identifying and reducing wastage in ad spend. By understanding how much budget is burned on non-viewable ads, advertisers can reallocate resources to more effective placements.

Example: If the total spend is $10,000 and only $7,500 worth of ads were viewable, the burned budget is $2,500. This indicates a need for better targeting and placement strategies to improve viewability and reduce wasted spend.

The Role of Ad Verification Proxies

Ad verification proxies are essential tools that enhance the accuracy and reliability of viewability measurements. Here’s how they help:

  • Simulating Real User Environments: Proxies use various IP addresses from multiple locations to test ad exposure under real-world conditions across different regions and devices.
  • Detecting and Preventing Fraud: By simulating real user behavior, proxies identify and filter out fraudulent ad activities like bot-generated fake impressions.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Proxies provide real-time data for continuous monitoring of ad visibility, allowing immediate adjustments and optimizations.
  • Geo-Targeted Verification: Advertisers can use proxies for geo-targeted verification to ensure ads are viewable in specific locations, particularly useful for local campaigns.

Best Practices to Improve Ad Viewability

  • Ad Placement: Place ads above the fold and use sticky ad units to keep ads in view as users scroll. Avoid placing ads at the bottom of the page where they are less likely to be visible.
  • Ad Design: Use eye-catching visuals and compelling calls-to-action. Ensure ads are responsive and adapt well to different devices and screen sizes to maintain visibility.
  • User Experience: Improve page load times to ensure ads load quickly. Use non-intrusive ad formats to maintain a positive user experience and prevent ad fatigue.

What is Ad Viewability Fraud?

Viewability fraud involves generating fake impressions through bots or stacking multiple ads in a single placement. This skews viewability metrics and wastes ad spend.

Ad verification proxies detect and filter out fraudulent impressions by simulating real user behavior, ensuring you only count genuine viewable impressions.

Technical Limitations Facing Ad Visibility Measurement

Inconsistent measurement standards across platforms and discrepancies in how businesses track viewability can lead to inaccurate metrics.

Using multiple measurement tools and cross-referencing data can help overcome these limitations, providing a more accurate picture of ad exposure.