Hearing Viewability

June 30 is almost here. That date is the next milestone in the transition to viewable currency.

It is the day when the Media Rating Council (MRC)’s gating period for video viewability measurement ends – and trading against video viewability, as measured by accredited vendors, can begin. 

June 30 is also the close of the first round of refinements to display viewability measurements based on the MRC Reconciliation Study. 

Adoption of these refinements by MRC-accredited viewability vendors is proceeding rapidly. Updates are posted on the MRC website regularly. The goal of the improvements is to reconcile variability in viewability measurement so that the metrics from the different vendors vary within a tolerated range of plus or minus 5% – 10%.

All this is clear progress, but what are we hearing from the marketplace about viewability at this critical juncture? 

Because of my role at the IAB and with the entire Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) initiative, I have had the privilege of speaking to numerous audiences about 3MS and viewability.  And I have has the honor of creating and participating in the IAB 3MS Educational Forum Series, where we explore the questions and solutions that are being uncovered as we implement viewability across the ecosystem. 

Publisher and agency experts have brought their problems and solutions to the 3MS Educational Forum series.  During one of these sessions, we learned that a large media-buying agency that has been testing viewability measurement across vendors is seeing reductions in variability as a result of reconciliation. We also learned that publishers are optimizing viewability in their site redesigns. And, importantly, in testing viewability, they are learning about the value of placements that may have been devalued in the past, like the much maligned below-the-fold ads.

All this progress aside, we are hearing disturbing conversations in the press and the blogosphere conflating fraud and viewability. How they became linked in such a spurious fashion is a question that I cannot answer. 

That said, for the record, a nonviewable impression does not equal a fraudulent impression. 

Viewability measurement and other consumer usage measurement do require filtration of fraudulent impressions.  To be clear, that is the sole link among measurement, viewability and efforts to safeguard our ecosystem against fraud. 

Accurate measurement demands stringent and precise methods of eliminating all forms of non-human traffic.  Some measurement companies are working hard to accomplish this.

Unfortunately, some vendors that purport to measure fraudulent impressions are making grandiose claims about their ability to measure these impressions.  In promulgating their own interests, they are creating unnecessary noise and panic. At the end of the day, though, I strongly believe that all this artificial cacophony will not be able to drown the voice of good measurement of digital media for brand marketers.

The work of 3MS will continue. The measurement of viewable impressions will continue to be refined.  The new currency, “viewable impressions,” is the foundation of the just-launched efforts to write a digital and then cross-media GRP standard with the oversight of MRC.  And, in turn, this new currency will enable digital media to be part of cross-media brand allocations.

With all this in motion, our industry will be able to ensure that, as consumers increasingly use all devices and screens for information, entertainment and connection to their peers and influencers, marketers will know how to reach and count them.

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