If you work in digital advertising, the big news around the traps last week was that the U.S. Media Rating Council (MRC) lifted its Viewable Impression advisory, giving publishers and agencies the go-ahead to begin transacting based on the previously adopted metric: an online advertisement impression should be 50% of pixels in a viewable portion of an internet browser for a minimum of one continuous second, a measurement that was borne out of in-depth collaboration between the MRC and the cross-industry coalition 'Making Measurement Make Sense' (3MS).
In the same week that the MRC lifted its advisory, Kellogg and Brightroll released its findings on discrepancies between various video viewability measurement companies. The findings come as no surprise to those of us invested in the health of the digital ecosystem: Our industry faces significant issues when it comes to consistency and accuracy of viewability measurement across platforms, including desktop, mobile and video.
Agencies and Publishers have access to a range of vendors offering viewability solutions either as a stand-alone product or integrated with other offerings. All too often these tools don't produce the same results. The challenge is to ensure that this discrepancy is minimized. The MRC have stated that an acceptable discrepancy range would be between 5-10%. In the US, the MRC is assisting vendors in updating their methodology, and have given vendors a 6 week window to align their practices with the new specifications – which are necessary for MRC accreditation.
For vendors and publishers alike, adjustments will be needed to fully adopt the Viewable Impressions metric as a transaction currency, and there will be a period of transition. Taken a whole, however, this is an important development, and one that IAB Australia supports. We are an industry that has taken great pride in being on the front foot when it comes to measurability – from ad viewability to audience measurement, there is industry consensus that when the entire digital media supply chain has accurate and consistent data, investment in the market increases.
The lift on the Viewable Impression advisory signals that we have new and improved technology available to further refine the way the digital advertising industry operates – and to continue to be at the forefront of transparency and best practice.
Still, the Viewable Impressions metric is not a panacea, but it is an important step in the right direction. As IAB Australia's Director of Research, Gai Le Roy points out, "Now that digital represents nearly a third of the ad market, IAB Australia is very much focused on the health of the industry. Providing clean, transparent metrics will go a long way to support the continued growth of the market."
There will likely be alterations to inventory, supply-demand ratios, and forecasting. However, as IAB US put it, "While the change can be inconvenient, the end result is expected to be higher CPMs and a greater investment in digital media from marketers. The upside potential is quite significant."
In its collaboration with the MRC, the IAB US was instrumental in creating the new measurement guidelines; IAB Australia, along with other relevant parties, will guide the Australian Digital Advertising industry through the roll out of this new metric, and harness the potential for growth and success. IAB Australia will be carrying out local testing to gauge the discrepancies between vendors here at home.
The first banner ad appeared online in 1993; as an industry, we're a young 21 years old. And like most people in their 20's, we're still discovering who we are, what we stand for, and – pun intended – what impression we have on others.
We are maturing as an industry. While issues like Online Traffic Fraud and Viewability & Measurement may seem like an uphill climb, it is important to remember that solving these issues allows the digital advertising industry to better serve the most important link in the chain: the audience.
IAB Australia will be working closely with our members to make the alignment with new metrics and guidelines as smooth as possible. It's something we've all been waiting for. After all, we can't stay 21 forever.