Corporate Eye

Half of Online Display Ads Don’t Appear

stopwatchA recent study from comScore found that 54% of display ads were not seen, which as you can imagine, is bad news for advertisers trying to get their brands in front of online audiences. In fact, the results could be much worse for advertisers. The comScore study recorded any ad that was at least 50% on screen and visible on screen for at least one second. How many advertisers would be happy if consumers saw their ads for one second?

World News Publishing Focus reports that many advertisers are now requiring online publishers to include viewability clauses in their ad contracts to ensure that advertisers get the brand exposure they’re expecting.

The problem in low viewability for display ads happens for a few reasons. For example, both technical issues and human error could cause an ad not to render properly. Intentional publisher negligence could also cause ads to go unviewed. However, the statistics from the comScore report only tell part of the story. In reality, many of those ads that were reported as going unseen were actually included on publisher websites per the advertising agreement. However, for many reasons, including a visitor scrolling quickly past an ad as they scroll down the page, these ads were visible to visitors’ for less than one second.

As World News Publishing Focus reports, advertisers have to find ways to ensure that their ads are seen. New ad units are helping advertisers get noticed online, but the more intrusive display ads become, the more negative brand backlash they can create. Moving some ad budget dollars to online video advertising is another option that advertisers can take, but video advertising is also far from perfect.

At the very least, advertisers may start paying premium prices for online ad placement that not only ensures ads are seen but that those ads are seen for more than one second each. Native advertising is an alternative that recent research has shown to be very effective for advertisers, but investing in sponsored content has problems of its own.

How are you ensuring your online display ads are seen? Have you shifted any of your marketing budget away from display advertising due to lack of viewability? Leave a comment and share your thoughts on display ads, viewability clauses, and native advertising.

Image: Jean Scheijen

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.