Now that the online advertising world has a viewability standard in place, it needs to make sure viewability is measured the same way by all the players in the ad workflow.
As set by the Media Rating Council (MRC), a video ad is considered viewabile if half its pixels are onscreen for two seconds; a display ad is viewabile when half its pixels are onscreen for one second. While this site thinks the standard is low, the MRC explains that viewability means an ad has the chance to be seen, not that it actually was seen.
Low or not, the standard protects advertisers from fraudulent impressions that were clearly never seen, either because of page placement or bot traffic. To make sure the standard benefits the industry and doesn’t cause confusion, the MRC has been conducting tests to make sure that all parties measure viewability uniformly.
To that end, the MRC just completed the third phase of its testing and released the results. There are still discrepancies in measurements, but the MRC is ironing them out. After evaluating almost 4 billion impressions, it found that 63 percent of the results showed vendor measurements that were close enough (they had less than a 10 percent difference). Of the other 37 percent, over half were due to differences in how mobile impressions are measured. The MRC says that mobile impressions should be put in a separate category, and that the viewability guidelines were written for desktop impressions only. Other trouble spots include multi-ad units, offsite ad servers, and uneven ad verification processes.
To deal with these issues, the MRC will issue updated viewability measurement guidelines within 30 days.
The MRC’s ad viewability partner, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), issued a response statement that said in part, “Clearly, the MRC analysis demonstrates the need to move faster in solving for the root causes of measurement disparity and inadequacies. The IAB has maintained that 2015 is the year of transition… Now is the time to move from good to great. The path is mapped out for us: all vendors must follow the MRC recommendations to improve viewability measurement and they must do so as rapidly as possible (lest they risk losing accreditation).”
The goal and end result will be advertisers wasting fewer dollars and more effectively targeting viewers, and that’s something the whole industry can get behind.