2015 Will Be a Year of Transition for Ad Viewability, Says IAB

Viewability has emerged as an important topic in the online advertising world, but getting to 100 percent ad viewailbity will take some time. Be patient, says the IAB.

ViewabilityA few months back, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Media Rating Council issued the first viewability standards for online ads. A video ad is viewable if half its pixels appear on the viewer’s screen for two continuous seconds, the standard says.

While that standard seems awfully low, the IAB says that 100 percent viewability isn’t possible at this time. The best that ad buyers should hope for is 70 percent. Good news: Only 30 percent of your paid ads won’t be seen—for the time-being, anyway

The IAB has just released a position paper on viewability calling 2015 a year of transition. Full viewability isn’t currently feasible, the paper says, but we’re getting there. Problems such as different ad units, browsers, ad placements, vendors, and measurement systems prevent 100 percent viewability, but the industry can solve those issues by working together, it says.

To create a mutually beneficial atmosphere of collaboration and trust, the IAB recommends marketers, agencies, and publishers follow these seven principles in 2015:

  1. All billing should continue to be based on the number of Served Impressions during a campaign and these should be separated into two categories: Measured and Non-Measured.
  2. Given the limitations of current technology, and the publisher observed variances in measurement of 30 to 40 percent, it is recommended that in this year of transition, Measured Impressions be held to a 70 percent viewability threshold.
  3. If a campaign does not achieve the 70 percent viewability threshold for Measured Impressions, publishers make good with additional Viewable Impressions until the threshold is met. Such a guarantee assures that all paid measurable ad impressions will be viewable at a threshold that both exceeds the minimum standard and falls within observed variances.
  4. All make-goods should be in the form of additional Viewable Impressions, not cash, and should be delivered in a reasonable time frame. Make-good impressions should be both Viewable and generally consistent with inventory that was purchased in the original campaign. Determination of threshold achievement is based on total campaign impressions, not by each line item. In other words, some line items may not achieve threshold, but others can compensate.
  5. For large format ads, defined as 242,500 pixels or over, a Viewable Impression is counted if 30 percent of the pixels of the ad are viewable for a minimum of one continuous second, as noted in the “MRC Viewable Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines.”
  6. All transactions between buyers and sellers should use MRC accredited vendors only.
  7. A buyer and a seller should agree on a single measurement vendor ahead of time. The industry aspires to variances of no more than 10 percent between viewability measures provided by different vendors. All stakeholders must avoid costly, labor-intensive, error-prone manual processes of reconciling different sets of viewability numbers, hence the benefits of agreeing on a single vendor.

Viewability standards are already splintering, with some agencies offering higher standards than the IAB and MRC set. During this year of transition, the IAB asks that all parties keep to the standard while the systems involved catch up.

Marketers, download and read the full “State of Viewability Transaction 2015” position paper.


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