This week comScore announced the launch of its first ad-verification tool called ‘Validated Campaign Essentials’, alongside a suggestion that over a third of ad impressions on the web are never even seen.

It’s not surprising that’s there’s waste, but the sheer volume of this claim – and the fact that it’s been validated by data from 12 leading brands – is sure to raise a few eyebrows.

comScore says that with the launch of this tool, it’s now able to provide advertisers with an analysis of which ads in an online campaign are viewed online. The software only tracks display ads on computers, not on smartphones or tablets, and for ads to be deemed ‘in-view’ they must be viewable for at least one second.

Working with 12 “national premium brands” in the US (across 3,000 placements, 381,000 site domains and 1.7 billion ad impressions) comScore found that in many cases, ads are delivered but not in-view or on target and therefore never have a chance to make an impact.

Those taking part included Chrysler, Discover, Ford, Kellogg’s, Kraft and Sprint. All of the impressions analysed in the study were delivered in iframes and none required publisher site pixels.

Of 69% of ads that were found to be ‘in-view’, 31% of online display ads weren’t seen by users. Sometimes the ads appeared below the fold and users don’t scroll down the webpage far enough to see them. Other times ads that are placed above the fold are scrolled past before they have had a chance to load.

Again, this doesn’t exactly highlight a new issue – but the scale is notable.

On a positive note, the survey also highlighted that just 4% of impressions were wasted on those in the wrong geographic location or where a product wasn’t even available. However, inappropriate display ad placements (classified as something harmful to brand reputation) were evident in almost three-quarters (72%) of campaigns.

President and CEO of comScore Dr. Magid Abraham explained that the display advertising market today is characterised by an overabundance of inventory, often residing on parts of a web page that are never viewed by the user. This dilutes the impact of campaigns for advertisers and represents a drag on prices to publishers.

Conversely, some ads below the fold are quite visible and deserve more credit. Ultimately, this type of third-party validation will help identify and appropriately price the proportion of online ad inventory that delivers value, improve buying and selling decisions, and instill more confidence and trust in the industry.”