Viewability by Targetoo

What is happening?

With the programmatic industry spreading at the current rate more and more methods for preventing fraud are emerging.

One of the major concerns is the quality of the impressions served. Although a DSP may show that an impression has been made on a certain inventory, this may not be entirely true. The key aspect is to ask ourselves: how are those impressions being counted? The truth is that if your DSP is connected to AdExchanges most probably these are being tallied with the rules of those AdExchanges. For instance, some might count the impression when the RTB auction is won (like Axonix), others might count it once the actual advertising space has been filled by an ad (like Mopub), etc.

This means that the quality of the impressions is not guaranteed because the user might leave the page or app just after the auction has been won and, even though your DSP has counted an impression, the user has not seen the ad you paid for. This means that any click (or any possible action down the funnel) couldn’t be possibly achieved and, therefore, no branding impact or lead generation is viable. Shouldn’t there be a way to know when this is happening?

The solution

Fortunately for the programmatic market, there is. A special pixel has been developed by third party companies (e.g. Google or Integral Ad Science) that successfully collects information about the viewability of a certain ad. The viewability pixel is a tag of code that aims to track when an ad has actually been on the screen of a device. In order for an ad to be considered as “viewed” it must be at least 50% visible on the screen for more than 1 second (for video ads the required time is increased to 2 seconds)[1]. When these conditions are met, the pixel fires and passes back the information that the ad space has indeed been seen by the user.

For example, take an ad space located at the bottom of the page. When the page loads, the AdExchange starts the auction and at some point between winning the action and filling the space, an impression is counted. However, if the user has not scrolled down to the page the ad is not deemed viewable and, therefore, useless.

According to a recent study[2] around 52% of display ads and 41.7% of video ads are out of view. This means that a significantly large number of impressions is being wasted. But instead of knowing that the impression was not worth it after buying it, why not make a system that prevents useless impressions? The Pre-bid solution is an industry best practice that’s now widely accepted. A third party vendor makes sure that a particular ad is seen or placed in a safe environment and meeting certain conditions.

In order for this to work the viewability metric has been created. The viewability pixel, as opposed to the impression pixel, is embedded in the ad space and not in the ad that is actually filling it. So this means that the pixel is fired once the ad space appears on a screen, regardless of what is showing. This metric gives the percentage of the amount of times that the ad has been visible. For example, if since the pixel was first installed the page has loaded 10 times and the ad space has been on a device’s screen 5 times, the viewability threshold for that impression is 50%.


An important point to note is that the benefits of pre-bid functionalities are maximized when combined with programmatic advertising. Real-time decision-making allows the traffic to be of a much higher quality when this two tools are combined. Furthermore, placements are more transparent which means that the performance of the campaigns rises and also the efficiency and effectiveness with which the algorithm operates.

Given the current industry concerns about viewability, brand safety and fraud, pre-bid provides a level of guarantee about ad placements. Ad spaces are only bid on and served in if the ad inventory meets the specific conditions set by the advertisers in the pre-bid filtering.

How does it work?

The DSPs that are integrated with these functionalities offer different options to customize the kind of publishers that advertisers want to bid on. They must specify these pre-bid requirements upfront: desired viewability thresholds (up to 70%), brand safety exclusions, suspicious activity levels[3] or contextual targeting (what information is surrounding the ad space). Some of these filters can even be combined together such as viewability and brand safety.

One of the recognized downsides and trade-offs that advertisers need to make when considering using pre-bid is the impact on campaign delivery. This trade-off can be managed by changing thresholds such as viewability levels. Another point to note is that there are limitations with pre-bid and in-app advertising; the in-app versus mobile web pre-bid options are visible in the platform and advertisers.

At Targetoo we always aim to deliver the best and most complete solutions to every client. That is why we have teamed up with Integral Ad Science to offer this Pre-bid solution. It is available in our platform and ready to start delivering impressions with the highest quality. Due to our fiduciary commitment, we are always looking for ways to bring better experiences to our clients. That is why we are keen to show you this new feature! Just reach out to us and we will gladly walk you through the platform and answer all the questions that come up.


[1] According to Google’s Active View and Integral Ad Science (IAS) guidelines.

[2] H1 2017 UK Media Quality Report by IAS

[3] Since the pixel is tracking how the ad space is behaving, it can help detect suspicious activity. Such as phantom clicks (when no impression has been made), click spamming (more than one click per impression), etc.