The State of Media Quality in the UK


Brand Safety Mobile and In-App

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Paul Nasse MD, Northern Europe, EMEA at Integral Ad Science shares key takeouts from the latest Media Quality Report


Every six months, the Insights team at Integral Ad Science review the latest digital media quality findings from across the globe. After measuring over one trillion media metrics each day, the IAS team analyses this vast dataset to provide transparency into the performance and quality of UK digital media, alongside global comparisons.  

Here we highlight some of the most important UK digital media quality data points discovered in the latest report, covering viewability, brand risk and ad fraud.


Brand risk reduces for UK advertisers

Between H2 2019 and H1 2020, UK digital advertising appearing next to content deemed inappropriate by a brand continued to fall everywhere, except desktop display environments. This continued improvement in brand safety risk in the UK can in part be attributed to advertisers applying verification technology and pre-bid filters to their programmatic campaigns.

  • Overall, mobile web video environments experienced the greatest improvement in brand risk. Within programmatic buys, mobile web video brand risk fell 24 percent to 5.6% when compared to H2 2019

  • For desktop video impressions, the UK was found to be the fourth safest country with only 5.7% of UK video impressions found next to content deemed unsafe

  • The mobile web display environment was the second safest for advertisers in the UK, with only 3.3% of mobile display impressions appearing next to inappropriate content

  • Even though desktop display impressions saw an increase in risk, only 3.1% of these UK impressions were at risk of being placed next to undesirable content

As hate speech and misinformation have come to the fore in 2020, we have seen an increased shift from brand safety towards brand suitability and risk management. Advertisers have turned to contextual technologies to ensure that their advertising does not inadvertently appear adjacent to hateful content or misinformation.


UK viewability continues to rise 

During H1 2020, viewability of UK ad impressions continued to rise across all formats and environments, hitting the highest levels ever seen. For the first time, nearly three-quarters of all UK ad impressions were in-view, with viewability levels exceeding 72.5%.

  • Mobile app display saw the biggest increase, with 73.5% of mobile app ads in view. The improvement was largely driven by programmatically transacted inventory, where viewability increased by 5.1 percentage points to reach 73.0% when compared with H2 2019

  • Despite viewability levels improving to 73.5% for desktop video and 72.5% for mobile web video, these both remained below the global average

  • The most viewable environment for the UK was found to be programmatically-sourced desktop video impressions, with 75.1% of impressions in-view

As more advertisers embrace verification solutions, especially when ensuring the quality of programmatic buys, this leads to greater optimisation and rising viewability levels. Viewability for mobile environments has also benefitted from increased adoption of the IAB Open Measurement SDK, a common code for facilitating third-party access to mobile measurement.


UK ad fraud remains low

Overall, ad fraud levels in the UK remained steady with all inventory optimised against fraudulent activity found to be on par, or below, the worldwide average. 

  • The UK’s ad fraud risk sits below the global average of 0.8% for desktop display, with 0.6% of impressions flagged as being impacted by fraud

  • Desktop video ad fraud also reduced lowering by 0.4% percentage points since H2 2019, to reach 0.6%

  • Mobile web display saw only 0.5% of inventory flagged as fraudulent

  • For mobile web video impressions, ad fraud levels at 0.4% were the lowest across all UK formats

Analysing IAS’ vast dataset is a hefty task, but an essential one in order to provide the industry with current digital media quality performance benchmarks. In leveraging IAS’ dataset spanning devices, formats and buying channels, we are able to create an industry barometer with which ad buyers and sellers can benchmark the quality of their campaigns and inventory. The data we provide enables the UK industry to see how their digital performance is tracking compared to the UK, or even the rest of the world.

 As consumers have turned to technology during the coronavirus pandemic, media quality has further taken centre stage for the digital advertising ecosystem. If you want to understand how the quality of your ad campaigns and inventory measure up, download the full report here.

By Paul Nasse, MD, Northern Europe, EMEA

Integral Ad Science

Integral Ad Science (IAS) is the global leader in digital ad verification, offering technologies that drive high-quality advertising media. IAS equips advertisers and publishers with both the insight and technology to protect their advertising investments from fraud and unsafe environments as well as to capture consumer attention, and drive business outcomes. Founded in 2009, IAS is headquartered in New York with global operations in 18 offices across 13 countries. IAS is part of the Vista Equity Partners portfolio of software companies. For more on how IAS is powering great impressions for top publishers and advertisers around the world, visit

Posted on: Friday 6 November 2020