IAB Measurement Guidelines
In Alphabetical Order
- Ad Campaign Measurement Process Guidelines
- Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines, U.S. & Global
- Guidelines for the Conduct of Ad Verification
- Audience Reach Measurement Guidelines
- Click Measurement Guidelines
- Desktop Display impression Measurement Guidelines
- Digital Video Ad Measurement Guidelines
- In-Game Advertising Measurement Guidelines
- Mobile Application (In-App) Measurement Guidelines
- Mobile Web Advertising Measurement Guidelines
- MRC Viewable Impression Guidelines
- Rich Internet Application Guidelines
- Rich Media Measurement Guidelines
In Chronological Order
Date: 10/2017 (Draft for Public Comment until 11/30/2017)
The MRC and IAB Tech Lab released an update to the IAB Digital Video Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines for a 30-day public comment period, which ends on November 30th, 2017. The Digital Video Ad Measurement Guidelines (Draft) represent a subset of measurement guidelines for digital video ads online, specifically, on-line browser or internet activity, mobile (web and application) activity and Over The Top (OTT) activity that involves digital video and audio advertising content.
Previous Version from 12/2009:
An addendum to the 2004 Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines, the Digital Video Ad Measurement Guidelines offer guidance for counting ad impressions displayed in a streaming video player. When video is displayed in a Web browser or included in an ad that is displayed in a Web Browser, the video is considered a display video or an “in-unit” video, respectively, and are governed by the display guidelines in the 2004 Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines. In contrast, the Digital Video Ad Measurement Guidelines cover ads that are served into a video stream or other streaming content. These ads may be formatted as a video played during a break in the video content, like a TV commercial, or as a static image or rich media overly, displayed concurrently with the video content and usually covering a portion of the content (overlay).
Originally published in 2006, the 2009 addendum adds guidance over ads that play automatically (auto-play). Ads that are video served to a webpage are still considered display or in-unit and not covered by these guidelines, but guidance over handling auto-play ads in a streaming environment are offered, including guidance for disclosure.
Scope: Limited to ads—both video and image or rich media—served within a video stream or other streaming content. Video ads served to a webpage or included in an ad that is served to a webpage are considered display or in-unit ads and covered by the standard 2004 Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines and applicable addendums.
IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau), the MRC (Media Rating Council), and the MMA (Mobile Marketing Association), with the expert technical support of the IAB Technology Laboratory, have released major overhauls to the Mobile In-App Measurement Guidelines—changes that will promote improved digital advertising measurement. The revised guidelines shift mobile in-app from a “count-on-download” minimum to a “count-on-begin-to-render” ad impression measurement minimum. References to “served” impressions have been removed from the proposed guidelines, substituting them with the concept of counting event-driven impressions which have a greater potential for an “opportunity-to-see” by an end user.
Scope: Limited to ads displayed in applications on mobile devices. Mobile Web advertising is covered in another document.
IAB, the MRC, and the MMA, with the expert technical support of the IAB Technology Laboratory, have released major overhauls to the Mobile Web Measurement Guidelines—changes to promote improved digital advertising measurement. The revised guidelines shift mobile web from a “count-on-download” minimum to a “count-on-begin-to-render” ad impression measurement minimum. References to “served” impressions have been removed from the guidelines, substituting them with the concept of counting event-driven impressions which have a greater potential for an “opportunity-to-see” by an end user.
Scope: Ad impression measurement for ads displayed in mobile web, which may include mobile-optimized websites, Web apps (WAP), or other browser-based content displayed in a mobile device. Excluded from these guidelines are measurement guidance on any non-Web mobile advertising such as messaging applications (SMS and MMS), mobile applications, and various forms of mobile audio and video.
IAB and MRC, with the assistance of the IAB Tech Lab, have introduced a revision to the Desktop Display Served Impression Guideline, shifting desktop digital ad measurement away from a minimum of “count-on-ad-insertion” approach to a “count-on-begin-to-render” model. With this move, mobile and desktop measurement will be more closely in sync with digital video measurement, which already requires “count-on-begin-to-render.”
Scope: Limited to ads displayed on desktop.
Digital advertising technology has advanced a great deal since the 2004 release of the Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines. The MRC Viewable Impression Guidelines extend the original guidelines by addressing a new level of quality for ad impression measurement—whether or not the ad was in view. A lot can happen between fetching an ad and actually displaying. In addition, even after the ad is loaded, site elements or browser window size can interfere with the visibility of the ad. These guidelines define a general standard for measuring viewable impressions displayed on websites and in video. While mobile web is not included in these guidelines, mobile web advertising companies are encouraged to use these guidelines until specific guidance is offered.
Scope: Applicable to browser-based and browser-equivalent based environments as well as any emerging technology that uses standard HTTP. Provisions are also made for streaming video environments. While mobile web guidance is excluded, mobile web advertisers are encouraged to consider these guidelines in their ad impression measurements.
Date: 9/2013 (updated)
Measuring audience reach has to do with establishing the number of people that visit a site—either directly or indirectly. These measurements are called “uniques” and play an important role in marketing and decision-making. The Audience Reach Measurement Guidelines help to ensure that companies audited for audience reach measurement are transparent and accountable in order to foster trust in the industry, especially as brands allocate more budget to online advertising. An important distinction in these guidelines is between machine-based measures and people-based measures. Either is acceptable for providing measurement, but full disclosure on which measures were used are vital in measuring uniques. Technical specifications for obtaining these measures are included in these guidelines along with guidance for filtration, reporting parameters, auditing, and panel-based syndicated measuring.
Scope: Measurement of audience in browser or browser-equivalent based Internet activity including any emerging technology that uses HTTP. These guidelines are generally applicable to Publishers or any content providers who market their inventory with audience reach measurement. Additionally, any company interested in the recommended practices for audience reach measurement can reference this document.
Guidelines for the Conduct of Ad Verification
Not directly for ad measurement, the IAB Guidelines for the Conduct of Ad Verification focus on establishing common practices and transparency among ad verification companies and the use of their technologies. The involvement of an ad verification solution in a campaign can cause count discrepancies between ad measurement reports and ad verification reports, and a varied approach by individual ad verification vendors complicates discrepancy resolution. These guidelines were developed to increase trust and foster growth in the industry. Practice guidance is offered in regard to: the ad serving environment, customer on-boarding and communication, primary service line descriptions, data capture, data inspection, conflict resolution, disclosure, and auditing.
Scope: Targeted for use in auditing ad verification, ad verification vendors and any party to a campaign where ad verification is used can use these guidelines as a reference for recommended practices in ad verification.
In-Game Advertising Measurement Guidelines
A completely different activity than simply Web-browsing, advertising in games follows a very different set of guidelines for counting impressions. Quality impressions for in-game ads are dependent on factors such as: ad exposure time, game lighting conditions, angle relative to the screen, obstruction by game elements, and idle periods. The In-Game Advertising Measurement Guidelines provide details on what constitutes an impression for ads displayed in an online game. Guidance is also provided for deferred impressions (impressions that occur while offline), session definition and interactivity thresholds, frequency and exposure capping, user attribution (unique users), engagement, auditing guidelines, reporting parameters, and guidance for disclosure.
Scope: Limited to dynamic, in-game ads that appear in console-based or PC games. Excluded from these guidelines are: around-game ads, static in-game or sponsorship ads, 3D ads, event-based ads, or ads that appear in a mobile game environment. Guidance for tracking sound and motion ads in games are governed by either video or rich media guidelines, depending on the ad. Additionally, any ads displayed in games where users have opted out should be considered invalid until further research and guidance on user non-participation if offered.
Clicks on ads generate revenue in direct response ad campaigns and therefore need to be clearly defined. An addendum to the 2004 Ad Impression Measurement Guideline, the Click Measurement Guidelines include details about the origins of a click, when to count a click, which clicks are valid and/or fraudulent, and the difference between a clickthrough and an in-unit click. Guidelines for filtration, auditing, and reporting parameters are also included. While more modern versions of the “click,” such as a “tap” in a mobile device, are not explicitly covered in this document, provisions for “any emerging technology utilizing standard HTTP protocols” are made. Any company responsible for tracking, measuring, reporting, storing, or auditing click data in an online campaign can use these guidelines.
Scope: Explicitly focused on ad clicks in an online browser- or browser-equivalent based environment, but any emerging technologies using standard HTTP are also covered.
Ad Campaign Measurement Process Guidelines
The growth of and dependence on third party ad servers (TPAS or 3PAS) and application service providers (ASPs) necessitated oversight on these campaign relationships. Agencies or Publishers that use an ASP for counting ad impressions may engage in counting activities that affect counts recorded in the systems of their vendor ASPs. When an ASP is audited, their customers must also be audited to ensure transparent counting methodologies and that the appropriate counts are being used. Another addendum to the 2004 Ad Impression Measurement Guideline, the Ad Campaign Measurement Process Guidelines account for counting practices for customers of the ASPs. This document maps the general campaign process and provides information for auditor inquiry in the areas of technology, process, and data. Scope: Only customers of audited/accredited/certified application service providers are addressed here. The guidance provided only covers what auditors need to consider in their inquiry rather than detailed practices and methodologies. These guidelines do not apply to enterprise customers of 3PAS and ASPs or publishers and agencies that use their own proprietary ad serving systems.
Because interactive rich media can include several files, special considerations are needed when counting rich media. An addendum to the 2004 Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines, the Rich Media Measurement Guidelines define the methods for acceptable counting. Guidelines for caching, filtration and auditing are also included along with reporting parameters.
Scope: In this document, rich media is defined as an ad with which users can interact as opposed to an ad that is simply animated. Only rich media in an online browser- or browser-equivalent based environment are addressed. This document is limited to impression-counting and does not include details about counting metrics such as expand, rollover, and other interactions. While mobile and video environments are not addressed, documents released at later dates may reference this document as a guide for counting interactive rich media in those environments.
An addendum to the 2004 Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines, the Rich Internet Application (RIA) Guidelines accounts for measuring ads in an online application where the page may change periodically while the ad is inserted dynamically and independent of page loads. An example of an RIA is an online email application or game site. Since the page is refreshed often in these applications, an ad could get counted several times using the original methods. In these cases, h2 user activity is used to count an ad impression with exceptions for applications that constantly refresh on their own, such as a stock exchange ticker. The RIA Guidelines detail acceptable counting methods along with guidelines for caching, filtration, and auditing as well as reporting parameters.
Scope: Applicable to browser- or browser-equivalent based Web applications. Wireless, off-line cached media, and interactive (or “smart”) TVs are not addressed in these guidelines.
Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines (US & Global)
These foundational measurement guidelines, released in September 2004, introduced common practices for measuring ad impressions. The IAB Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines have become the standard by which ad-tracking companies are evaluated. In general, these guidelines outline client-side ad counting. In a server/client relationship where the ad is served from the ad server to a client, client-side counting counts the ad once client has confirmed that it received the ad tag for retrieving the ad. This method counts the ad as close as possible to an opportunity to be seen.
Additional measurement guidelines have been developed since the release of the original Ad Impression Measurement guidelines to account for the ever-changing pace of digital advertising. Most additional guidelines are based on the details in this document. Used in audits and MRC accreditations, all companies involved in any part of the digital media supply chain should be familiar with these guidelines.
Scope: Limited to browser-based advertising on desktop computers and laptops although the same principles and guidelines have been applied in other mediums and environments.
Note: the primary difference between the US Guidelines and the Global guidelines are an appendix in the Global guidelines that define the different American associations involved in developing these guidelines.