Better Safe Than Sorry

After months of writing and speaking about Making Measurement Makes Sense (3MS), on my own and with esteemed colleagues from the buy and sell sides, I’ve learned that redundancy is actually a good thing.  This is especially so in terms of the task at hand: changing measurement in a complex ecosystem.  While we all crave standards, demand quality and believe that digital media need to be part of big brand allocations on a regular basis, some on the sell-side remain concerned about changing currency too quickly.  Most of the concern centers on the technological complexity of assuring stable viewable impressions measurement for transactional purposes.

Wow, that was quite a mouthful! Moreover, it is quite a challenge.  

In mid-March, the IAB released SafeFrame 1.0, a solution to the challenge of measurability that iframes and nested iframes pose. SafeFrame needs  to be implemented to assure that we can dramatically reduce the number of online impressions that cannot be counted as viewable. SafeFrame is an open-source solution that IAB and its members have developed for use by all publishers.  The link included here leads to detailed materials, including the SafeFrame 1.0 specifications, reference implementation, and an FAQ, as well as a comparison chart reviewing SafeFrame versus iframe. 

The message of this post to publishers is to test SafeFrame now

The message to the buying community, especially agencies, is that viewable impression currency is on the way -- and this must happen in an orderly fashion, with science behind it, as originally envisioned by 3MS and as described in the historic advisory issued by the Media Rating Council (MRC) issued to the ecosystem in November of last year.

The science behind the move to new currencies already isolated obstacles to measuring viewability. Through broad testing of viewability measurement, we learned that there were big brand campaigns where the proportion of impressions that are not measurable exceeds that of the viewable impressions that are measurable. There are multiple vendors in market today with solutions for measuring viewability, three of which have been audited and accredited by MRC: comScore, DoubleVerify and RealVu. The problem is that while each of these products is accredited, there are others that are not -- and together, across the board, variability in the data is dramatic.  At best, this is difficult to manage.  At worst, this situation will morph into utter chaos if the marketplace deploys viewability currency before all testing and implementation are complete in 2013. 

Yes, that’s right, this year, as originally planned.

The demand for viewable impressions likely would have occurred without 3MS.  After all, vendors with viewability measurement were on the scene even before 3MS launched.  However, an orderly transition with consistent, transparent metrics will not be possible without 3MS, nor will a full ecosystem mobilization behind the other measurement solutions that 3MS espoused.

The ecosystem needs to know how SafeFrame alleviates the viewability measurement challenges already apparent.  We need to know from many voices what SafeFrame testing tells us.  And, most of all, we need to work together to assure an orderly transition to viewable currency for brand advertising online.  The time is now. No more waiting. If we don’t move toward this currency exchange taking effect by January 2014, the demand from the buy-side will likely overtake the desire to avert a chaotic, messy supply chain.  The disarray and the costs of that disarray for all will be greater than an orderly, transparent move to meet the timelines already in place.

The MRC just issued a call for speeding SafeFrame adoption, applauding it as a critical next step in getting prepared for what’s ahead.

Don’t miss this opportunity. Better safe than sorry.

1 comment about "Better Safe Than Sorry".
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  1. Nick D from ___, May 2, 2013 at 3:55 p.m.

    Wow, where to start with this...

    >The message of this post to publishers is to test SafeFrame now.
    That's great, but surely there are better forums for this message? Given 3MS hasn't been particularly visible for the last 5 months, it's not exactly a clear and unequivocal message.

    >At worst, this situation will morph into utter chaos if the marketplace deploys viewability currency before all testing and implementation are complete in 2013.

    You're just about to miss the boat on that one. By not actually saying anything on viewability for the calendar year of 2013 to date, 3MS has handed the gavel to various metrics providers, who have enthusiastically run with it. Hello vCE, OCR, and numerous ad-serving solutions. And in fact, they've not just run with it, they're giving *seminars* on how to use viewability as a trading currency.

    As for the issues in SafeFrames itself (it relies on publishers not to send back false data), they're also a major concern.

    What's needed is clear leadership and coordination from 3MS, working with the metrics vendors to ensure a consistent message, and pushing the industry forwards. For the sake of the industry, I hope it takes the form of more than just a post on MediaPost

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