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February 17, 2015
Good: Numbers. Better: The Right Numbers
 
Marketing and advertising managers, account managers, and others responsible for reporting the success or failure of different campaigns were really dealt a blow when it was reported that only 70 percent of ads are even being viewed by consumers. If a company were spending a substantial amount of money to be noticed online, that news would have made them quite upset.

Reasonably so.

AdAge came out with a column lambasting those professionals who think of it as "okay" to have 70 percent viewability. Why should marketers be okay with it?

Well, for one thing, viewability does not equate to sales. If the viewability of an online ad reaches 98 percent, who is to say that the increase of viewability would increase the sales revenue? 

Not necessarily.

Say that 70 people saw your ad online, and you achieved a conversion rate of 30 percent, so 21 people. What if you increased the viewability to 100 people and the same amount of people, 21, bought your product? The brand then just added 30 more people for the same result, therefore actually losing money in the model.

What if instead of keeping the same amount of people, your brand maintains the same percentage, 30 percent, boosting your number of sales conversions from 21 to 30? Do the money or effort or resources make it worth those additional bodies?

It's not unlikely, but it is a decision that the brand will have to live with. 

It is not just important to look at the bottom line; how much is coming in. But when looking to increase the viewability, then we have to start looking at the marginal cost. How much is each additional consumer/viewer going to cost in order to get to that special viewability number?

When we look beyond the initial numbers, it is then when managers can make really good decisions. Who really cares about the 70 percent viewability rate? What a realistic manager would be looking at is how many of those 70% are buying. Then the next question would be, how could we get more of those people who are seeing the ad to convert? Finally, after capturing the potential customers who are seeing the ad, attention would then be paid to increasing viewability.

The goal first is to satisfy the majority of consumers that you already have. If your brand is too worried about getting the numbers, then the focus is missing and, somewhere along the road, the brand will struggle.

So is the 70 percent viewability rate a big deal? Yes, it is. But not for the reason everyone thinks.

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Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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