Viewability Strongly Tied to Online Conversions New Research Finds: Alternatives to U.S. MRC Standard Yield Similar Results

In a comprehensive study, Oracle’s MOAT, The Trade Desk, Magna and the IPG Media Lab Highlight the Importance of Viewability in Direct Response Advertising

London: MAGNA, the intelligence, investment and innovation unit within IPG Mediabrands, and IPG Media Lab, the media futures and advisory arm of IPG Mediabrands, in partnership with Moat, part of Oracle Data Cloud, and The Trade Desk, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTD) announced the results of a yearlong and groundbreaking exploration into the importance of viewability in performance-focused direct response campaigns. The resulting report, Pulling Back the Curtain: Viewability & Direct Response, uncovers the impact of viewability on digital conversions, how the Media Rating Council standard compares with alternatives, and how direct response-focused advertisers should approach viewability when making buying and measurement decisions.

The report analysed viewability and engagement measures in display campaigns across various industries including pharmaceutical, consumer electronics, consumer packaged goods, and entertainment. A wide range of online conversions were captured, such as visiting an information page, signing up for a trial subscription, and online sales.

Areas of analysis throughout this study included:

  • Viewability Measures:
    • Time-In-View: Total sum of time creatives are on-screen for each consumer
    • Percent-on-Screen: Average percent of pixels of a creative that are on-screen for each consumer
  • Engagement Measures:
    • Universal Interaction Rate: Whether a user interacts (hovers over) the ad for ≥.5 seconds
    • Universal Interaction Time: Cumulative time that a user interacts (hovers over) the ad for ≥.5 seconds
  • Viewability Standard:
    • U.S. MRC Standard versus alternatives various other agencies implement
  • Attribution Measurement:
    • Multi-touch attribution with and without viewability data included

“While viewability is now considered table stakes in the industry, there are still many unanswered questions around how it should impact the way we buy and measure media” said Kara Manatt, SVP, Intelligence Solutions Strategy at MAGNA.  “We were pleased to be able to dig so deep on the subject, particularly to uncover findings that validate our use of the MRC standard.”

“We’ve long known that the concept of viewability, the opportunity to be seen, is the starting point for effective advertising,” said Jonah Goodhart, SVP of Oracle Data Cloud and Co-Founder of Moat. “The in-depth research we did with MAGNA and recent research from Oracle Data Cloud and Facebook are helping us explore its impact. Viewability is the start of the conversation, but measures of attention, like interactions and time, appear to relate even more closely to campaign performance. The better we understand the relationships between exposure and outcomes, the more equipped we can be as an industry to make smarter decisions about our media and creative investments.”

The study found that increased viewability is, in fact, strongly related to increased conversions. More importantly, non-viewable impressions have the ability to paint an inaccurate picture of how campaigns perform. With the inclusion of viewability data, attribution models become “smarter” and place less importance and credit on non-viewable impressions.

Although viewability is critical for understanding how effective direct response campaigns are, the research did not confirm a specific threshold of “in-view” impressions advertisers should aim for in campaign planning. This is because viewability is not the only driver of campaign success.

“As consumers spend more time across screens, understanding the impact of viewability is even more crucial for campaign measurement and performance,” Kathleen Comer, VP of Client Services at The Trade Desk says. “Investing in understanding campaign viewability can help advertisers achieve a clearer picture of engagement and attribution.”

“This latest contribution to MAGNA and IPG Media Lab’s growing body of research on viewability once again demonstrates the important role viewability measurement plays in today’s digital advertising environment,” said David Gunzerath, Senior VP and Associate Director of the Media Rating Council.  “It’s clear that having an understanding of how well a campaign has met industry viewability requirements is an essential element to assessing its performance and the ROI that’s associated with it, regardless of whether it’s a brand-focused or direct response campaign.”

Key Takeaways Include:

  • Both dimensions of viewability, ‘time in view’ and ‘percent on screen’, are strongly related to online conversions. That is, consumers who were exposed to ads with higher viewability were more likely to convert.
  • Non-viewable impressions can paint an inaccurate view of campaign performance.  Furthermore, adding viewability data to attribution models more accurately attributes conversions.
  • Whether marketers use the U.S. MRC standard or some other alternative, performance metrics are similar – both the percentage of impressions deemed viewable and the number of conversions that take place. This supports the use of an common  standard across the industry.
  • Other metrics, such as ad interaction, are positively correlated with conversions.  Specifically, we observed a direct relationship between consumers who interacted longer with ads during exposure and conversion rates. For example, the longer consumers interact with ads during exposure, the more likely they are to ultimately convert at some point.
    • One campaign showed a 97 percent increase in conversions among consumers who engaged with the ad for four seconds.
  • While in general, the more impressions that meet the MRC standard, the better, that isn’t always the case. Viewability is only one of many factors related to campaign success. Advertisers should balance the increased cost for optimizing on viewability with the increase in conversions they would likely gain.

In conducting the media trial, more than 50 million display impressions were tracked across four campaigns on desktop and mobile web. Each campaign was running on The Trade Desk DSP for three months. Raw impression and conversion data, along with Moat viewability and attention data, were compiled and analyzed by MAGNA and the IPG Media Lab.  In addition, Cadreon, the advertising technology specialist unit of IPG Mediabrands, was brought on as a partner to provide advanced multi-touch modeling to measure attribution with and without the inclusion of viewability data.

About The Trade Desk, Inc.
The Trade Desk is a technology company that empowers buyers of advertising. Through its self-service, cloud-based platform, ad buyers can create, manage, and optimize more expressive data-driven digital advertising campaigns across ad formats, including display, video, audio, native and, social, on a multitude of devices, such as computers, mobile devices, and connected TV. Integrations with major data, inventory, and publisher partners ensure maximum reach and decisioning capabilities, and enterprise APIs enable custom development on top of the platform. Headquartered in Ventura, CA, The Trade Desk has offices across the United States, Europe, and Asia. To learn more, visit or follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

MAGNA is the centralized IPG Mediabrands resource that develops intelligence, investment and innovation strategies for agency teams and clients. We utilize our insights, forecasts and strategic relationships to provide clients with a competitive marketplace advantage.

MAGNA harnesses the aggregate power of all IPG media investments to create leverage in the market, negotiate preferred pricing and secure premium inventory to drive maximum value for our clients. The MAGNA Investment and Innovation teams architect go-to-market investment strategies across all channels including linear television, print, digital and programmatic on behalf of IPG clients. The team focuses on the use of emerging media opportunities, as well as data and technology-enabled solutions to drive optimal client performance and business results.

MAGNA Intelligence has set the industry standard for more than 60 years by predicting the future of media value. The MAGNA Intelligence team produces more than 40 annual reports on audience trends, media spend and market demand as well as ad effectiveness.

About IPG Media Lab
Part of the Interpublic network, the IPG Media Lab identifies and researches innovations and trends that will change the media landscape and how brands engage with their audiences. Since 2006, the Lab has worked with our clients and with industry partners who can help them best adapt to disruptive change. Its expertise, resources and consulting services also help to inform the learnings, strategies and business outcomes of all Interpublic agencies. For more information, please visit or follow @ipglab.

About Moat
Oracle’s Moat is focused on building products for brand advertisers and premium publishers. Its offerings include Moat Analytics, an attention measurement platform that provides analytics and insights on ad campaigns and website inventory for publishers and marketers, and Moat Pro, a real-time ad intelligence platform for marketers, publishers, and agencies. Moat was the first company to be accredited by the Media Rating Council (MRC) to measure viewable ad impressions across online display and video, as well as mobile (web and in-app). The company was founded by Jonah Goodhart, Noah Goodhart and Michael Walrath and was acquired by Oracle in 2017. For more information on Moat, please visit