Getting Clear On Viewability

The IAB hosts a Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) educational forum once a month in order to foster knowledge-sharing about measurement change and support the implementation of viewability.  These sessions have been well attended and have helped many come up to speed on the massive transition that arrived once the Media Ratings Council (MRC) gave the green light to transact on viewable.  Still, despite a plethora of educational sessions, an in-depth 3MS website including a comprehensive FAQ section, copious amounts of press coverage and more, a steady drumbeat of concerns and questions in the marketplace seems to persist. 

Below are issues that I’ve seen surface with some frequency, alongside answers that will help ensure that there is more clarity around viewability:

Where did viewability come from, and who supports it?

This one may seem like old hat to those who follow the progress of 3MS.  However, this question does still arise.  Viewability, the move from a served to a viewable ad impression, is the foundational principle of measurement supported by executives from across the ecosystem.  Specifically, viewability  for display and video desktop is supported by members of the ANA, the 4A’s and the IAB.

Are we transacting on viewable impressions yet?

Yes and no. 

Yes, viewability is part of the evaluation process at most large agencies, which have been testing multiple viewability measurement vendors and are incorporating viewability in their planning and buying processes.

The actual transaction as it would occur in the form of billable guarantees is not happening yet, since billing systems are still not integrated with measurement systems. So, that constitutes the “no” at this juncture.

Why is duration part of the viewability standard?

That’s because the marketing and advertising industry needs standards-based interactive advertising metrics that are comparable to legacy media.  For brands, the must-buy medium has been TV – and  TV impressions are calculated using duration weighting.

If we are to get to a place where cross-platform GRPs can accurately reflect unduplicated audience reach and frequency for an ad campaign across screens, we must have rough “equivalized” impressions.

How should the marketplace handle non-measurable impressions?

Non-measured impressions do NOT equal impressions that are not viewable. Why? Because they may or may not be viewable. There is no way for us to know for sure.

But let’s be clear on a critical issue on this front: Non-measured impressions do NOT equal fraudulent impressions.  This confusion seems to rear its ugly head on an all-too-frequent basis, so I think it’s incumbent upon me to reiterate this fact just as frequently.

As the transition to viewable impression currency continues, measurement will improve. The end result will be a decreasing pool of non-measured impressions.  One way to hasten that improvement is to deploy SafeFrame.

Non-measured impressions should not be free of charge.  Even if they can’t be measured, they may very well be viewable.  We simply do not know.

Of course, this entire column begs another question: Why is there still confusion and contradictory information in the market? 

There is no question that the various industry organizations involved have been shouting about 3MS from the rooftops.  I suspect that the larger issue here is that this stuff is new and hard to implement.  Besides, change is always hard – and this constitutes a major shift for the ecosystem.

However, it does seem that a smaller part of the disconnect is deliberate. Let’s be honest: There is money to be made by fostering confusion – and that money is not going to the marketers, the agencies or the publishers.

But whether the issues at hand are large or small, this sea change is here. There is no turning back. Get clear on viewability and clear a path for your business to succeed in this new digital paradigm.

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1 comment about "Getting Clear On Viewability".
  1. Jack Brown from JT Sales & Marketing , August 7, 2014 at 5:12 p.m.
    BDAI has made the mechanical aspect of this change very easy; the human element creates the delay in adopting this new level of Ad performance measurement (3ms). As you eluded to, this "black box" obstruction appears to be primarily motivated by money and control. Improving the industry's performance and creditability via measured visibility only gets fast tracked if championed by Advertisers. Ad Agencies and Publishers have no incentive to improve status quo. However, a few are starting to realize how a product /service that provides (3MS) monitoring, reporting and analytics is worth considering. RTB has pushed on-line advertising metrics to a speed that only another computer can keep up with. Data collection, analytics, reporting and campaign management can be controlled in real time using our AdByze product. We are scheduling one-on-one webinars for anyone who wants better ROI with Visability in Real Time. Call: 678 947 1846