Ad impressions will drop by 50% or more. CPMs will increase commensurately. ComScore 500 publishers will finally get the respect they deserve and recapture market share from their junky ad network rivals. Consumers will start noticing – dare I say liking? – display ads. Display will no longer be the red-headed stepchild in the shadow of direct response rival search or brand rival video. That's what we can look forward to in a world ruled by the viewable impression standard.
Why am I on my high horse about viewable impressions? And why do I think it's such a big deal for the industry? Well, we in the display advertising world have a real problem, and it's been plaguing us since the earliest days of the medium: how to think about, understand, and make sense of the true value of a display ad impression. Our initial answer, back in the late 1990s, was to say, "Let's just measure what we can – clicks!" and our addiction to the click-through rate (CTR) as the key measure of display advertising's success – or more often failure – was born. We should all be kicking ourselves for that, and I know many of us are: We took a brand new marketing vehicle, ripe with promise and untainted by the rules of marketing channels that came before it, and turned it into a cheap, bottom-of-the-barrel direct response mechanism.
Who did this serve? No one.
It didn't serve publishers, who were – and still are – under constant pressure to prove that the display banners they sell in their premium, proprietary environments have intrinsic value.