In analog media environments, passive measurement technology using rigorously drawn representative samples was the surest way to capture unbiased behavioral metrics. The technologies for delivering fully viewable advertising and content were easier to understand and were not questioned. Printed pages render fully and therefore are viewable. Television commercials render on the screen and likewise are viewable. Measurement of consumer usage of these media and their ads is accomplished using technologies entirely separate from the technology that delivers them.
This is not the case in digital media. The act of measuring advertising and the presumed consumption of it on interactive screens requires advanced technology that is actually embedded in the delivery process. Measurement requires things like tags in every ad. A myriad of technology-based occurrences happen at any given millisecond, intertwined in delivery of content and ads -- and their measurement.
When measurement changes, all of these intricate relationships are affected -- and, in turn, impact the capacity to measure. Some examples: Creatives use different assets, all of which load differentially. Multiple tags and heavy ads cause latency, in which the ads load very slowly and do not make a viewability threshold in time to count.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau has just released a Primer on Improving Viewability for Publishers to fully explain the intricate and iterative processes of measurement and improving viewability. The primer provides a roadmap for how to handle site redesign, test measurement vendors, and establish a "source of truth" among varying results from multiple measurement vendors. It provides insights on how to work successfully with internal resources and manage agency/advertiser relationships.
Currency change in media requires diligent measurement methodologies, especially in digital media, where exceptionally detailed, rigorous testing and retesting is a must. Because there are no formulas, it takes time to acquire a body of collective knowledge. For some sites, certain recommended steps can work better than for others.
What's clear is that the intelligence gathered from publisher experiences with viewability measurement is invaluable to help this metric form advance, and for viewable impressions to be the core measurement for cross-platform, audience-based currency.
The new primer is just the first in what IAB hopes will be a series of how-to documents to support publishers as they transition to new and better ad measurement. The primer will be useful as a foundational roadmap to testing and implementing mobile viewability as it becomes more important.
This is a time of change for digital media, and the best way to adapt is to learn from each other's successes. The primer offers just that: real-world how-tos for publisher wins on the viewability front.