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IAB Says 100% Viewability Measurement Is Not Yet Possible

Trade Body Recommends 70% as Best Threshold for Buyers and Sellers During ‘Year of Transition’

NEW YORK, NY (December 16, 2014) — The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) today released the “State of Viewability Transaction 2015,” a position paper offering the digital media and advertising industries guidance on how to manage the shift of digital media’s “audience currency” to 100 percent viewability.

The IAB statement heralds the collaboration among the digital trade association, the ANA, and the 4As that has stewarded the historic change in advertising measurement, but labels 2015 a “year of transition,” and calls on advertising agencies, publishers, marketers, and advertising technology companies to work together to assure the new currency can be implemented by all companies in the digital advertising ecosystem. The paper reiterates a statement made in October by the Media Rating Council (MRC), the organization charged by the industry with managing the Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) processes, that 100 percent viewability is “unreasonable for advertisers, agencies and publishers implementing viewable impressions as measurement currency to expect to observe viewable rates of 100% in analyses of their campaigns.”

“It’s time to set the record straight about what is technically and commercially feasible, in order to get ourselves on an effective road to 100 percent viewability and greater accountability for digital media,” said Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO, IAB. “The MRC said it best – 100 percent is currently unreasonable. Why? Because, different ad units, browsers, ad placements, vendors and measurement methodologies yield wildly different viewability numbers.”

“Publishers, agencies, marketers, and ad tech companies can resolve these differences by working collaboratively to make measurement make sense. We won’t do it by holding guns to each others’ heads,” he added.

To foster stronger collaboration and build trust, the IAB recommends that marketers, agencies, and publishers adhere to the following seven principles during 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 30-40%, it is recommended that in this year of transition, Measured Impressions be held to a 70% viewability threshold.
  3. If a campaign does not achieve the 70% viewability threshold for Measured Impressions, publishers should be willing to 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% 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% 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.

“The entire industry came together to provide true accountability through a single viewability measurement,” said Jason Kint, CEO, Digital Content Next (formerly the Online Publishers Association). “At this point in time, it’s critical that all parties adhere to the MRC standard and provide for a period of transition while the systems catch up. On behalf of all premium publishers, I commend the IAB’s shepherding the industry through this phase.”

To read the entire “State of Viewability Transaction 2015” statement, go to http://www.iab.com/viewability.

About the IAB
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy. It is comprised of more than 650 leading media and technology companies that are responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital advertising or marketing campaigns. Together, they account for 86 percent of online advertising in the United States. Working with its member companies, the IAB evaluates and recommends standards and practices and fields critical research on interactive advertising. The organization is committed to professional development, elevating the knowledge, skills, and expertise of individuals across the digital marketing industry. The IAB also educates marketers, agencies, media companies and the wider business community about the value of interactive advertising. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered in New York City.

IAB Media Contact
Laura Goldberg
347.683.1859
[email protected]