Still, with some stakeholders jockeying for position and disparate perspectives aplenty, misleading chatter erupted -- and even more than a month out, misconceptions persist.
In order to put everyone back onto the same page, the following is a guide to the basics.
Why did the IAB issue the position paper?
We wanted to explain how viewability measurement is currently performing at an individual publisher level and provide guidance on what is realistic for near-term transactions.
The IAB membership aspires to 100% viewability of all digital ads. However, we know that technical and measurement challenges make it unreasonable to expect that every ad in a campaign will be 100% t viewable and that individual publishers will deliver 100% viewability across a given campaign.
The position paper in no way affects our unwavering support of the MRC standard for the measurement of a viewable ad impression for display and video. That standard is 50% of pixels in view for a minimum of one second for display and 50% of pixels in view for a minimum of two seconds for video.
In concert, we also support the efforts underway by our partners, the ANA and the 4A’s with us, the IAB, to make measurement make sense through the 3MS initiative.
And, we support the oversight of measurement standards and processes that the MRC provides to all.
What is a threshold -- and why is the IAB recommending a 70% threshold?
As used in the position paper, a threshold is a percent of the aggregate of viewable impressions delivered across a campaign. The 70% threshold would simply be applied to a given campaign, across the various line items or ad units purchased, guaranteeing that the total campaign will deliver 70% viewable impressions.
The assertion that 70% is reasonable comes from publisher-reported variances of up to 30% to 40% in individual campaigns run on a specific site. The variances occur across measurement vendors and from the same vendors for common ad units in similar placements. We have yet to establish benchmarks and we are experiencing the kind of bounce that impairs any ability to establish a baseline. Therefore we believe that achieving the 70% minimum is reasonable at this point in time.
The paper calls for making good with like inventory on any campaign that falls below the threshold, thus assuring an advertiser that every possible effort is being made to achieve solid viewability delivery. In fact, in many cases, this guarantee system will provide for more than the 70% viewability.
How can we improve measurement and attain higher levels of viewability delivered to advertisers with greater consistency?
We must all focus on empirical science. That means analyses of viewability data at individual publisher and campaign levels both across accredited vendors and across individual campaigns and publishers using a common vendor.
The data analyses must be part of an organized effort under MRC oversight to isolate reasons for differences in measurement. With MRC oversight, vendors can be required to alter and improve processes.
Ideally, viewability measurement discrepancies will ultimately fall within tolerable ranges of plus or minus 10%, and benchmarks can be established with confidence..
What about the unmeasured ads?
MRC has been working with accredited measurement vendors to improve processes. And, measurability rates have been on the rise.
That said, both display and video ads are not always fully measurable and users of the data should carefully examine measurability rates. IMPORTANTLY, AN UNMEASURABLE AD DOES NOT EQUAL A NON-VIEWABLE AD.
Moving toward better viewability measurement, we cannot lose sight of the longer-term goal: full cross-platform comparability for all online and offline screens.
As part of this measurement transformation, we have yet to develop and write standards for viewable mobile impressions. (You read that correctly. The current standard does not cover mobile ads.) The process of crafting a digital GRP that will truly allow for interactive to have apples-to-apples comparative metrics with traditional media is in a very early stage.
We still have a ways to go and a lot more work to do. Crafting a solid pathway toward a 100% viewability threshold is one vital step in an even bigger journey for digital media and measurement.
And, while I am offering clarity on where we are today, I cannot resist the urge to direct you to the sources of knowledge and the language of the standard. Get familiar with the topic. Stay on top of change. Viewability is only the beginning.