Quality Impressions Connect Your Creative To Your Media Buying

Tim van Rijt
Tim van RijtHead of InnovationMore about Tim

Do the impressions you buy make an impact?

Viewability has become more and more important when buying media. Since buying an impression which is never on screen is a wasted opportunity, brands and agencies focus on a high in view percentage. More recently, exposure time is also considered when buying media. An impression in view for only 2 seconds will surely not have the same impact as an impression in view for over 10 seconds.

Even though these are very positive steps to take when buying media, a brand has to continuously ask the question “Does the impression I buy actually make an impact?” In order to answer this question, the message you want to get across comes into play. If the message is not suitable for the majority of your bought impressions, the impact it makes will be far from it’s potential.

Does my creative limit my buying potential?

A lot of brands and agencies still have separate silos for creative design and media buying. While these are two very different disciplines, they both affect each other. More often than not, the only current connection between the creative and the media buying is the context of the media. A creative from an automotive brand will reach it’s maximum potential when the media is visited by car enthusiasts, or people looking for a new car.

What is currently overlooked is the duration of the message you want to get across. If the message on the creative is an animation lasting for 25 seconds, how much impact will it make if the creative is only viewable for 5 seconds? Will the brand actually be in view? Will the core message be displayed?

If a creative needs to be viewed for over 10 seconds in order to get the message across, media buying should be limited to impressions with an expected exposure time of at least 10 seconds. A lot of premium websites will not reach this expectation, meaning these websites will not be suitable for your creative.

Quality impressions

A quality impression is an impression that shows the full creative message in view. This means the exposure time of the impression must be the same or greater than the duration of the creative.

This shows the added value of connecting the creative design with your media buying: a message with a duration of over 15 seconds limits your media buying, just as impressions that are in view for less than 3 seconds limit your creative design.

By connecting the two worlds you can tailor the impressions you buy to the message you want to get across. A suitable creative message does not limit your media buying, while the media you buy is expected to show the full message of your creative.

How to connect your creative and media buying

When connecting creative design and media buying, there are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • You can adjust your media buying to a higher exposure per impression, but this is never a guarantee. Users can still scroll through a website very fast, leaving you with very little exposure of the creative.
  • Mobile devices show very different behaviour than desktops and laptops. In general, mobile impressions are in view for a much shorter timeframe. For Desktops, 7 seconds is a difficult, but achievable target. For mobile devices, 3 or 4 seconds is already challenging.
  • Each creative size has a different exposure time on a website. It can be challenging to get a leaderboard in view for a long time on a specific website, while the medium rectangle could be expected to be in view for a much longer time.
  • It is still very hard (if not impossible) to measure exposure time on In-App traffic. This makes In-App impressions a bit of a black box when it comes to Quality Impressions

Taking this into consideration, the following will help you buy more quality impressions:

  • Make sure your media buying is focused on impressions that are expected to be in view for at least 7 seconds (desktop) or 3 seconds (mobile).
  • Create a message with a maximum animation duration of 7 seconds.
  • Consider creating a different, much shorter message for mobile devices. Alternatively, make sure the core message can come across in the first 3 seconds to also be suitable for mobile devices.
  • Make sure your brand is in view from the start. Even when users scroll sooner than expected, your brand would have still had exposure.

“My message is so appealing it will keep users from scrolling or leaving the website”

When talking about quality impressions, this argument has come up a few times. No matter how great your creative looks, how original the content is and how well it suits the audience viewing it, you will not change the behavior of a user surfing the internet.

Of course, there is the odd exception where users are enticed by an ad and actually stay on the webpage a bit longer to see the message on the creative. However, do not kid yourself into thinking your creative will have this effect. More often than not, you will fail. Play it safe and connect your media with your creative, even though your creative is of very high quality.

If a user stays on a webpage longer because of your ad, great! You have done a terrific job. If a user does not stay on the webpage longer because of your ad, you at least have connected your media to your creative, meaning the impression is expected to be in view long enough to get the message across. This way, you will be prepared for both scenarios. Don’t gamble on the one, very unlikely scenario.

In Conclusion

When buying media, connect your creative design with your media buying. This makes it possible to buy quality impressions which display the full message in view. Make sure the media you buy has a high enough exposure time to get the message across. Make sure the message on your creative is short enough to be in view for the full duration.

For Desktops, a creative message of around 7 seconds is a realistic target. This makes every impression with an expected exposure time of 7 seconds a quality impression. For mobile, a duration of only 3 seconds looks like the maximum to still have enough scale.

Build up your creative message to maximize the impact on impressions with a short exposure time. Display your brand on the message from the start and make sure your core message comes across in the first few seconds, to give your message the maximum impact. Impressions with a short exposure time still make an impact, while the impressions you aim for get the full message across. This will not only improve your short-term targets like CPA and CPC, it will also help your long-term targets, like ad recognition and brand awareness.

Related content

viewability challenge featured image
Average exposure time is often calculated across all impressions, including those which are in-view for an hour or more