FAQ: Update on Desktop Viewable Impression Reconciliation Guidance

1. What is the reconciliation? Why is it important?

The Media Rating Council (MRC), in its ongoing effort to identify and address any remaining systemic issues that cause discrepancies in the desktop viewable impression measurements among MRC-accredited viewability measurement providers, has concluded a data reconciliation exercise involving analysis of specially structured data on viewability measurement results for production advertising campaigns. The MRC undertook this additional step to ensure that any remaining material causes for desktop viewable impression systematic counting differences were identified.  This analysis involved most major MRC accredited viewability vendors and included nearly 4 billion impressions and thousands of campaigns, covering display and video ads, as well as publisher and agency/advertiser traffic (including ads served via networks and exchanges).

2. Whose data was included?

Data was provided for campaigns measured by almost all major MRC accredited viewability vendors. It included nearly 4 billion impressions and thousands of campaigns, covering display and video ads, as well as publisher and agency/advertiser traffic – this included ads served via networks and exchanges.

Data supplied to MRC for this project (in response to a call for additional data) was maintained under strict confidentiality. MRC has made efforts to prevent sharing the identity of participants and will not share results on an attributed basis with anyone.

3. What are next steps?

MRC plans to update the MRC Viewable Impression Measurement Guidelines to address any specific areas identified through the reconciliation process that have not been already addressed, and to emphasize those issues that have been previously addressed but, remain sources of discrepancies in viewable impression measurement.

These updates to the Guidelines will be issued by MRC within the next 30 days. Once issued, accredited measurers will have a limited amount of time to fully adopt these updates (to the extent they have not already been implemented), and compliance with these provisions will be verified through the MRC audit and accreditation process.

4. Why are there discrepancies?

Closer analysis of the differences observed in all situations (i.e., test campaigns of all sizes) led us to determine the following reasons for the differences in reported viewable impression counts in this round of reconciliation testing:

  1. 54% of the difference was a result of differing treatments of mobile viewable impressions in vendors’ reporting.
    • MRC Observation: Discrepancies attributable to this reason have grown since our prior reconciliation phases. The MRC Viewable Impression Guidelines were written as a guide for measuring viewability in desktop environments. Viewable counts resulting from impressions served to mobile environments should be segregated in reporting from those served to desktop. Given the growth noted in this discrepancy area in this latest round of testing, we believe this segregation has a very high urgency.
  2. 28% of the difference resulted from vendors treating multi-ad units in different fashions for measurement and reporting purposes.
    • MRC Observation: MRC addressed this issue in an earlier round of viewability reconciliation, and informed vendors that ads should be measured for viewability individually, regardless of whether they are packaged together as part of a multiple ad unit. This issue will be formally addressed in a forthcoming update to the Viewability Guidelines.
  3. 13% of the difference was a result of differences in whether vendors opt to measure ad traffic served in a campaign by ad servers other than themselves.
    • MRC Observation: This was a new finding resulting from this round of reconciliation testing, and will be addressed in a forthcoming update to the Viewability Guidelines.
  4. 2% of the difference was a result of differences noted in the application of certain ad verification processes, and the reporting of viewable impressions within those processes.
    • MRC Observation: This issue was addressed in the original Viewability Guidelines, and was reinforced by MRC to viewability measurers following the last round of reconciliation testing. It will be emphasized again in the forthcoming update to the Viewability Guidelines.
  5. The remaining 3% of the differences noted resulted from other causes (including issues that were previously identified in earlier MRC reconciliation testing).