While the study itself was confined to digital advertising, the same holds true for print. Much like site visitors may never process an advertisement that appears on a site or social network page (whether a digital news site or Facebook page), circulation often dictates the number of impressions even if consumers don't pore over every printed page (whether advertisements or stories).
Digital advertising highlights from the comScore study.
• Across all study campaigns measured, 69 percent of the ad impressions were classified as being ‘in-view.’* The remaining 31 percent were delivered but never seen by a consumer, a likely result of a consumer scrolling past the ad before it loaded or a consumer never scrolling the ad into view. In-view percentages varied by site and ranged from 7 percent to 91 percent.
• An average of 4 percent of ad impressions were delivered outside the desired geography, but individual campaigns ran as high as 15 percent. In many cases, ads were served in markets where the advertised product is not sold, meaning wasted ad spending and sub-optimal effectiveness results.
• 72 percent of all study campaigns had at least some ads running next to content deemed “not brand safe” by the advertiser, meaning that the content is deemed objectionable by the brand. This type of unsafe delivery has the potential to damage the brand, creating a difficult situation for all members of the digital advertising ecosystem.
“The display advertising market today is characterized by an overabundance of inventory, often residing on parts of a web page that are never viewed by the user. This dilutes the impact of campaigns for advertisers and represents a drag on prices to publishers,” said Dr. Magid Abraham, president and CEO of comScore. “Conversely, some ads below the fold are quite visible and deserve more credit."
*The study included 12 national brands, 3,000 placements, 381 site domains, and 1.7 billion ad impressions.
The dilution of impressions is higher than the study suggests.
Looking over the study and the numbers, it seems that vCE is taking a step in the right direction. However, even with vCE campaign delivery notifications, advertisers, marketers, and public relations professionals ought to be establishing better outcome measurement systems instead of attempting to calculate expected outcomes based on a percentage of impressions.
This is especially true because digital and print are generally judged by two completely different systems. So is television, which is based largely on cost-per-thousand and cost-per-point, which begins with the ratings system. Smart phones and tablets are developing slightly different measures too (especially because many ads are 'hard' screen views).
While counting impression measures can be useful to make apples to apples comparisons, marketers and small business owners will see better results if they pay more attention to two other ingredients: focusing efforts on finding outlets to reach consumers who have an expressed interest in their product or related topic and investing more time on advertising that isn't 'noticed' more (e.g., flashy and splashy) but rather can deliver a value proposition that entices those consumers to take the next step (or at least remember the company). When combined with benchmarking, the outcomes will become apparent.
Ergo, it's not the number of throws you get. It's the number of times you hit the target.