NOW SHOWING: Viewable Impressions for Video Ads – Advisory Lifted

Today’s expiration of the gating period advised by the Media Rating Council (MRC) means the digital media industry has a green light to transact based on the Viewable Impression Guidelines for video advertising. When the Viewable Impression Guidelines advisory lift for display advertising was announced on March 31, the MRC established a gating period on the video guidelines advisory until today, June 30, 2014 to provide the industry with the opportunity to prepare.

On March 31st, the MRC also released the Viewable Impression Guidelines to the industry for a 30-day public comment period. This document, a collaborative effort of the MRC and a large working group organized under the auspices of the IAB’s Emerging Innovations Task Force, clearly spells out the parameters for how viewable impressions should be measured.

Since then, the MRC, in conjunction with 3MS, has worked to educate the entire industry on viewable impressions through industry events, media interviews and a PSA campaign (see below). In addition, the MRC has been working closely with vendors that are currently accredited – and those working toward accreditation – to reconcile discrepancies in viewable impression counts. The MRC recently issued guidance on measurement processes that were contributing to such disparities. This on-going reconciliation effort has helped to standardize measurement practices and minimize the margin of difference between vendors’ impression counts.

Today’s lift on the gating period for viewable video ad impressions marks a major milestone in the MRC and 3MS’ efforts to shift from a served impression to a metric that provides more meaning in the digital landscape. The video guidelines (as well as display ad guidelines that were issued on March 31, 2014) were created with cross-industry input and are supported by a substantial amount of research, some of which existed prior to the development of the concept of a viewable impression, and other research that was developed specifically in conjunction with the viewable impression initiative.

The guidelines for viewable impressions state that 50 percent of pixels (whether video or display) must be in the viewable portion of an internet browser for a specific minimum amount of time: at least 1 continuous second for display ads, and at least 2 continuous seconds for video ads.The final guidelines are available here or on MediaRatingCouncil.org.

These guidelines were developed in response to industry demand for a standard way to measure and transact on digital advertising. Specifically, they were established to create a standard metric for viewable impressions, marking a shift from transacting on “served impressions.” While there has been a lot of discussion recently correlating viewability to fraud, it’s important to note that viewability and fraud are not synonymous. Rather, they are separate issues with areas of overlap, and should be tackled as such. Addressing viewability will not eradicate ad fraud, and tackling ad fraud will not solve the issue of non-viewable ads. The MRC and 3MS believe that at the end of the day, this change will likely drive a stronger and more prosperous interactive advertising industry overall.

To help build awareness and adoption of the display and video viewable impression metric, 3MS has launched its PSA Video Contest and is challenging the industry to create its own version of the “viewability” metaphor – see the two recent examples 3MS created here and here and visit www.measurementnow.net/competition for entry rules and details.