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Mobile Pushing Down UK Display Ad Viewability

Q1 was fourth consecutive quarter of below 50% in-view rate

The UK’s already lower-than-average digital display ad viewability rate sank further in the first quarter, and mobile advertising is partly to blame, according to ad measurement firm Meetrics.

In the first three months of 2017, the proportion of banner ads served in the UK on Meetrics’ platform that met minimum viewability guidelines (that is, 50% in-view for at least 1 second) dropped to 47% from 49% in Q4 2016—the lowest level since Q2 2016 and down from 54% in the first quarter of 2016.

Digital Display Ad Benchmarks in Select Countries in Western Europe: Viewability Rate*, Q1 2016-Q1 2017 (among impressions measured by Meetrics)

“Declining viewability is partly driven by mobile now accounting for over half of display ad spend but tending to have lower viewability rates than desktop for various reasons,” said Anant Joshi, Meetrics’ commercial director for the UK and Ireland.

“Obviously, the smaller screen size can mean more page scrolling and, thus, more chance of ads being missed lower down a page, plus slower network connection speeds can cause ad loading delays,” he said. “There’s also the legacy issue of desktop ads served on mobile, which don’t format properly, despite the use of responsive design.”

While slower than in years past, mobile display ad spending continues to grow by double-digit rates in the UK. In 2016, it swelled by 48.0% to $3.54 billion (£2.62 billion), and is expected to expand by another 25.5% this year, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast. All told, mobile represented 70.5% of total UK digital display ad spending in 2016, and will be responsible for 76.1% of the total this year.

The UK isn’t the only country in Western Europe witnessing lower display ad viewability. In Q1, Germany recorded a 3 percentage point decline in viewability to 55%—and “all-time low” for that country, according to Meetrics, and a figure down 5 percentage points from a year earlier.

Viewability rates in the other two European markets Meetrics measures—France and Austria—were less clearly in decline. In France, viewability rose 3 points from the prior quarter to 60%, but was down from 66% in Q1 2016. Austria’s rate dipped by 1 point compared with the prior quarter, to 67%, but was up from 65% a year earlier.

Cliff Annicelli

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