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Gannett Ramps Up Its Viewability Data as New 'Gravity' Ad Units Soar

63% interaction rate for advertisers like Netflix and History

An example of USA Today's full-page "Gravity" ad unit, which lets readers scroll to news.

Gannett, publisher of USA Today and roughly 120 other news outlets, is getting new metrics for video that should help it prove to advertisers that consumers are actually seeing ads on its sites.

It's the latest move by a publisher to deal head-on with the controversial issue of viewability, which has been a key discussion point in digital advertising throughout 2014.

Partnering with tech vendor Moat, Gannett will employ stats such as viewability, reader interactions and exposure time to sell its Gravity units, which are full-screen video ads introduced in late August. They have since been tested by Netflix and History Channel on USAToday.com, featuring one-minute spots for their respective original programming. Viewers can click to move onto news at any time during the promo. (History's example can be watched here.)

"Our goal was to deliver the best possible advertiser and user experience in one package," David Payne, chief digital officer at Gannett, said in a statement. "The early performance numbers are in, and they are mind-blowing."

While brands haven't released data about the ads' performance, Moat is pitching aggregate stats from a wider range of companies that suggest USAToday's recent Gravity ads are indeed being viewed at a high clip. 

They include the following:

  • Average consumer viewing time of 57 seconds
  • In-view rate of 83 percent
  • Interaction rate of 63 percent

Jonah Goodhart, Moat CEO, added that brands were getting "longer in-view time than commercials" via Gannett's sites so far. 

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