Although the viewability of an online ad impacts how it is priced, research suggests it has little to do with overall effectiveness.
The study, conducted by mobile advertising company Kargo, compared the effectiveness of in-app, desktop, social and mobile web ads using eye-tracking technology.
Effectiveness was measured by recording eye movements throughout the entire end-to-end experience, as the user engaged with each respective platform.
It found in-app ads, in the form of gaming banners, had the lowest effectiveness (1.3 per cent), despite having 90 per cent viewability.
This meant that almost 98.5 per cent of the time the ad was ‘in-view’, it was not being looked at.
Desktop also had a relatively poor viewability to effectiveness ratio, according to the research.
While being in-view around 80 per cent of the time, a sidebar ad had the effectiveness of two per cent.
Using Instagram as the test platform, social ads performed far stronger than in-app and desktop.
Although viewability was relatively low (50 per cent) due to the extended session lengths and higher number of total ads being served, effectiveness was still 10.8 per cent.
In-article ads made for mobile web also had an effectiveness of 10.8 per cent, despite having a similarly low viewability of 50 per cent.
As well as testing effectiveness, the Kargo research also tested the ad recall of each format.
Mobile web (29 per cent) and social (20 per cent) again performed better than in-app (11 per cent) and desktop (three per cent).
Why it matters
Kargo argues that optimising ads based purely on visibility “will likely result in lost opportunity for marketers”.
And while the research shows that specific platforms have an impact on the effectiveness of an ad, the design of the ad is also an important factor.
“The fragmentation of today’s media landscape has created a rift in consumers’ consumption habits — where consumers’ attention is no longer owed but in fact must be earned,” Kargo says.
“In order for brands to break through in today’s attention economy, it takes nothing short of “thumb-stopping” creative for marketers to garner recognition and appreciation.”