Silence Is Golden
It seems the notion that silence is golden has lost its luster. As an industry, a collective collaborating to solve thorny measurement issues, we have not been tooting our horns recently. There has been much progress on the development of standards and testing needed to institutionalize a viewable impressions currency and then some.
Technology is supposed to speed things up. However, big technology changes, the ones that alter the face of an ongoing business, can take time. It sometimes seems that the very sector that believes most devoutly in technology and speed is also the one that can take the longest to implement changes -- if those changes could disrupt its own neighborhood.
Much has happened since the IAB, the 4A’s and the ANA founded Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS), and since business leaders across the ecosystem articulated and supported the guiding principles of measurement. With MRC leadership and expertise, we have completed large-scale pilot tests on viewability. We learned that the greatest stumbling block to a viewable impressions currency is the capacity to actually measure impressions that are obscured by iframes and nested iframes. Basically, there is a measurability problem we must solve, and we must do so quickly.
In November, the IAB released the SafeFrame solution for public comment. Implementation of the SafeFrame solution should alleviate many of the measurability issues surrounding viewable impressions. As I write this column, there are IAB’ers and others working on a test plan so that the SafeFrame solution can be successfully rolled out and we can gauge how well it works. And, for further clarity, leaders of the marketing and agency communities are fully supportive of adopting solutions that permit measuring viewability.
In addition, for Rising Stars ads -- the new creative canvasses IAB has developed, with large, aesthetically stunning units --additional tests of viewability standards are underway. The proposed minimum standard of 50% of pixels in view for one second likely needs modification for the Rising Stars. The solutions we need here are both technical and consumer-focused. MRC is leading the way forward.
All of the above is focused on banner advertising viewability standards. In a parallel path, work on streaming video viewability is also underway. This is particularly necessary to put all digital ad impressions on equal footing. Specifically, all impressions must meet an agreed-upon standard or standards of viewability in order to guarantee the opportunity to see. Moreover, the development of a GRP standard -- across online and TV as well as other media -- is contingent on this level playing field. MRC is leading the industry forward here, too. Anyone who wants to contribute to this effort should contact the MRC.
With viewability standards in place, we must establish the value of interactive impressions so we can differentiate inventory and demonstrate how different units build brands effectively. Two big steps forward have occurred on this front as well. The 3MS Ad Classification and Taxonomy Group recently completed its work on the capabilities and features of banner and video ad units. The classification schema will be vetted by a team of creative directors and by a team of buyers and sellers who will test its utility in the transactional process.
And, last but not least, at the end of 2012 the IAB published a whitepaper on engagement calling for a clearer conceptualization of the elements of interactive engagement and suggests a framework for developing standard definitions. This will facilitate the move to measuring and using brand performance metrics as described by the original 3MS teams.
Silence may not be golden in a noisy rumor mill. In fact, silence can be misinterpreted for stasis. We are not standing still. Take the noise with a grain of salt, and check with the MRC on standards and accreditation.