Clarity vs Discrepancy

September 5, 2014
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If you’ve been in the ad business long enough you know that network/publisher (where you’re running your ads) impression counts are often significantly greater than those reported by your ad server (e.g. Adventive). The reason for the difference is largely due to how impressions are defined. Publishers often define "impressions" as the number of times they attempted to request the ad unit (requests). In some cases, what the publisher ad server reports as delivered impressions can actually be much higher than what was actually "impressed" upon the viewer. This is because they have no idea whether or not the ad unit was successfully displayed on the page. Take a look at the following example. We’ll try our best to keep it simple.

ad serving 101

When a user visits a site, the publisher ad server requests that an ad unit be displayed on the given page in a given spot (a "placement"). This results in a call to Adventive for the ad creative, which we then deliver into the ad placement requested by the publisher. Let’s say one of our users compares reports and notices a huge discrepancy in reported impressions. The publisher data reports 100,000 “impressions” and Adventive is reporting just 50,000 impressions. Digging deeper, we can see that the publisher requested the ad unit from Adventive 100,000 times. Adventive logged 50,000 impressions, meaning the number of times the ad unit was actually rendered on the page. At Adventive, an impression ONLY counts if the ad unit was actually rendered in the browser. If it doesn't render – the user clicks off to another location, the page is loading slowly, or the site or browser is in some way hiding the units or not rendering the placements – we don't consider it an impression, and we don’t charge our users for it. How do we do this? Adventive utilizes beacon-based impression tracking, keeping very detailed logs containing information on every interaction with the ad unit (requests, impressions, engagements, hover coordinates). This arms our users with the data they need make informed decisions when it comes to media placement, messaging and overall campaign optimization. At Adventive, when we say "impression" we mean it.        

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