Video Viewability: What You Don't Know

We’ve reached another milestone in revolutionizing the measurement of digital ads. On June 30, the Media Rating Council’s (MRC) gating period for transacting on accredited measures of video viewability ended, ushering in an era of new transactional currency.

The new era may be underway, but it is still early enough that some are still in need of the basics.

First up:  What is the measurement standard?

Like display, the video viewability standard has a pixel and a duration minimum. The standard requires that a measurer determine that an ad meets the pixel requirement first: a minimum of 50% of ad pixels on an in-focus browser on the viewable space of the browser page.

A minimum of 50% of ad pixels must be in view for a minimum of two continuous seconds. The required time is not necessarily the first two seconds of the video ad. Any unduplicated ad content comprising two continuous seconds qualifies.

Second: How did the industry arrive at this standard?

Incredibly, what is absent from most public discussions of viewability is the simple fact that the standard is based on science.  Yes, literally, empirical science informed the MRC and the experts from dozens of companies who participated in developing and writing the standard. The MRC tested assumptions about the duration requirement with data from billions of impressions. More than 80% of impressions that were viewable for two continuous seconds ultimately were viewable through video ad completion.

Third: How can you find out which companies are accredited for video viewability measurement?

The MRC website has the names of the companies audited and accredited to measure video viewability. To date, there are three MRC-accredited vendors.

Next: What should the industry be mindful of at this point?

Much of the latest press coverage on video viewability focuses on whether or not the standard is adequate. Just as headlines don’t always tell the whole story, minimums for measurement are a starting point; they are not necessarily the whole deal. I use the word deal deliberately, because this particular column is essentially about currency change – and with the go-ahead on transacting against viewable video ad impressions, a new official form of currency has been born.

Now, it is up to the marketplace to determine how the measurement standards are deployed for transactions, and adjust accordingly. Expect that the shakeout period will be somewhat attenuated.  But transactional currency change and shakeouts of this sort aren’t new to the broader media marketplace, even though they are to digital media today. It’s what needs to happen in order for a new media channel to develop and grow.

More questions about video viewability? Experts at the organizations behind the Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) initiative, the 4A’s, ANA and IAB, as well as the MRC -- myself included -- are ready to answer and ensure that this new standard drives the entire digital marketing ecosystem to new heights.

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5 comments about "Video Viewability: What You Don't Know".
  1. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein , July 8, 2014 at 3:46 p.m.
    Ouch.
  2. Darrin Stephens from McMann & Tate , July 9, 2014 at 9:55 a.m.
    Yikes, but just to further muddy the waters: It's possible for a TV viewer to view zero seconds of a commercial but still have it count as viewed in the C3 calculation (and no, I'm not talking about walking out of the room while the spots are on).
  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc , July 9, 2014 at 10:46 a.m.
    What I'd like to know, if I were an advertiser, is what percentage of the time is an online video ad viewable from start to finish with all of its pixels showing on a page? That would be the "Gold Standard" as far as opportunity to get a message across to the user. I gather, that this metric, which, of course, is a far tighter one than is now being touted, may never see the light of day because it would, no doubt, indicate that many "ad impressions" actually are never "delivered". As for TV's commercial audiences, these "measurements" are accurate only in so far as they define set usage----sets tuned in-----while commercials are on the TV screen. Nobody knows whether the "viewers" are paying any attention, nor whether they are even in the room at the time.
  4. Jeff Bander from Sticky , July 9, 2014 at 2:38 p.m.
    Imagine knowing if your online video was actually seen and not just played. As far as TV goes, eventually TV's will have eye tracking built in. The issue will be privacy and what percentage of people will allow themselves to be tracked while watching. Technology is great and getting better and better. Will be exciting.
  5. William Richards from Procter & Gamble , July 28, 2014 at 1:11 a.m.
    Sherrill, great article. How does this relates to Connected TV? Samsung, YouMe, and few other companies are working on to bring impression measurement to smart tvs.