• Advertising

Mobile Ad Viewability: What You Need to Know

Team InMobi
Team InMobi
5 min read
Posted on September 17, 2019
Mobile Ad Viewability: What You Need to Know

Here’s what you need to know about mobile ad viewability today.

When running mobile advertising campaigns, whether in mobile apps or on mobile web, mobile ad viewability is key. No matter where an ad is running, whether in a newspaper, on TV or in digital (i.e. desktop and mobile) environments, it’s critically important to prioritize and measure viewable ad rates. If ads aren’t being seen by real people on a particular channel, why bother devoting ad spend to it?

But how do you know if the viewability rates for your desktop or mobile campaigns are any good? Without a viewability standard in place, there’s no way to tell if the viewability metrics you’re seeing are good or bad.


To help establish viewability guidelines and benchmarks in the digital advertising space, Integral Ad Science (IAS) recently released its Media Quality Report for the first half of 2019. Gathering insights from a variety of data sources, including integrated software development kits, IAS’s biannual reports provide a useful and comprehensive snapshot of desktop and mobile viewability in advertising. Here’s what the data reveals.

Highlights of The Report

  • Reflecting changing media consumption behaviors, especially within the mobile market, mobile app display viewability grew the highest, by 9%, when compared to desktop and mobile web.
  • Video ads continue to deliver better viewability across both desktop and mobile.
  • Mobile app display time-in-view beat mobile web display time-in-view by 4.6 seconds.
  • Mobile benchmarks for ad fraud continues to be lower than that of desktop.

Average Viewability Rates, Display Ads

Time in View, Display Ads

Here’s how IAS defines both viewability and time in view in its report:

  • Viewability: “Per the Media Ratings Council (MRC), a display ad impression is viewable if at least 50% of pixels are on screen for at least one second after the ad has rendered, and a video ad impression is viewable if the ad is playing while at least 50% of pixels are on screen for at least two continuous seconds.”
  • Time in view: “Time-in-view is the average duration that a viewable impression remained in view. This average does not include impressions that were not viewable according to the MRC standard in the calculation.”

Benefits of In-App Advertising for Viewability

The time-in-view data from the IAS report is very interesting. Time-in-view metric for in-app display is 25% higher than mobile web and only 10% below desktop, which highlights the strength of in-app media.

Despite the small screen compared to desktop, the 100% share of voice nature of most in-app ads drives much higher time-in-view metrics than mobile web and nearly as strong as time in view in desktop. Mobile app viewability is a key differentiator.

And, potentially, if you took out in-feed placements from in-app display ads, it’s definitely possible they would drive higher time-in-view metrics than even desktop display. It’s possible that viewability was a key driver behind banners accounting for less than half of all programmatic in-app ad spending in the first three months of this year.

Figures from IAS around mobile video advertising correspond to numbers highlighted in InMobi’s 2019 Mobile Programmatic Advertising Trends report. The higher than average viewability rate of video ads is one reason why their average click-through rate (CTR) was two times better than native ads and 10x better than banners in the first quarter of 2019.

This IAS report shows how far the mobile app advertising space has progressed. Back in 2017, brands and agencies were fretting about viewability in mobile environments. No longer. As this most recent data shows, mobile generally and apps especially are much better than desktop and laptop environments for viewability.

“With ad spend increasingly concentrated in mobile, it’s imperative that brands have transparency into the quality of mobile app inventory,” said DoubleVerify COO Matt McLaughlin.

Predicting the Future of Mobile Ad Viewability

Across many leading categories, viewability is improving. This trend will continue for a few key reasons. For one, advertisers and their programmatic partners are increasingly prioritizing viewability, only working with vendors and solutions that support measurable viewability and are taking significant steps to reduce fraud.

And two, many brands and agencies are increasingly embracing creative formats like video that are much more likely to be viewed. In the U.S., approximately 30% of banners and around 40% of all display ads leverage rich media creative experiences - and this will very likely increase in the coming months.

Changes are afoot in the video advertising realm too. Today, 70% of served video ad impressions in the U.S. via InMobi Exchange are 20 seconds or less. Around 10% of video ads are six seconds or less, although that will significantly grow in 2020.

Interested in learning more about mobile advertising and viewability? Check out these resources:

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