Facebook, in conjunction with MRC, IAB and Nielsen are working on establishing viewability standards for mobile ads and hopefully these standards will help to define the difference between an ad impression served and an ad impression viewed.

Why is the distinction between the two so important? Money. If marketers don’t have to pay for non-viewed advertising that will be a huge amount of money saved and a welcomed boost for return on investment. Since mobile viewability is such a hot topic now, The Mobile Majority created a helpful infographic called, “Was our ad actually seen by a human?” This infographic assists folks (both technical and not-so-technical) to wrap their brains around this sometimes confusing topic.

The Mobile Majority has broken down the entire ad serving process and outlined the myriad of players, technologies, and factors that contribute to the confusion. Basically, it comes down to “it’s just not that easy.” Data signals to understand if an ad was viewed, especially when it comes to apps, are complex to capture. There’s many factors that contribute to a campaign’s performance.

If you look at the section of the infographic called “Timing” it will help put the complexity of inter-related parts working together into perspective.

A typical mobile ad is requested, analyzed, bid on, approved, served and interacted with by a user in under half a second.  That’s right, just one half of one second. In that half of a second it often needs to interact with more than 20 intermediate technologies to optimize the campaign.

The infographic further explains in layman’s terms why viewability is so important. Non-viewable ads lead to media and technical waste that drags the performance of the campaign down. They also say that campaigns that have ads that are seen by humans will always outperform those that don’t which makes this information vitally important to the success of ad campaigns.

So how can viewability be achieved? Not by one party alone, but through a group effort and a holistic approach where developers to publishers work together to correct problems in real-time, which is rarely the case today.

When it comes to delivery, there’s never been more options than we have today. It’s both exciting to be able to create engaging experiences for consumers on their tablets and phones, but the range of different mobile viewing options also makes it difficult. The infographic says “this range of interaction requires additional layers of technology to standardize a clean and consistent hand-off of data between advertisers and the publishers they use.

To learn more about mobile ad viewability, visit: The Mobile Majority at http://majority.co/viewability