Media industry ratings watchdog the Media Rating Council has released proposed guidelines for defining a viewable ad impression on a mobile device. The new guidelines, which are available for public review and comment here, essentially apply the same standards the MRC has been recommending for determining a viewable impression in desktop browsing environments, with one exception: newsfeeds.
The MRC withheld making a formal recommendation on how ads appearing on newsfeeds on mobile devices should be treated, because it said it needs to analyze user cognition further. But for the moment, it said it has not concluded that they should be treated any differently than ads being rendered in other ways on mobile devices.
The other significant development in the new guidelines is that the MRC removed a preliminary recommendation that ads rendered in mobile applications need to be fully loaded before they can be considered viewable. The MRC said it removed that criteria because the way the industry and consumers interact with mobile content has changed so much since the preliminary guidelines were issued that the criteria is no longer relevant.
Going forward, the new guidelines basically utilize the same criteria for a desktop viewable impression -- that at least 50% of the ad has to be viewable to the user for at least one second for a static ad and for at least two seconds for a video ad -- in order to be counted. The MRC said the criteria apply equally to ads being rendered in both mobile Web and in-app environments, indicating that the user experience, not the means of serving or loading an ad, should be the key determinant.
MRC CEO and Executive Director George Ivie said the preliminary guidance was issued at a time when the industry wasn’t even sure if and how viewable impressions could be measured in in-app environments, but that since then, several vendors have come up with solutions, including at least one that has been accredited -- Moat -- with several others pending, including Google, Integral Ad Science and comScore.
Ivie said resolving in-app viewability was crucial, because the vast majority of mobile ad experiences are being rendered via applications and not via mobile Web. He explained that further research is necessary before issuing guidelines for the viewability of ads appearing in newsfeeds in mobile environments, because user behavior and interaction is so different than in other content experiences.
“The cognition may be different,” he explained, adding that in newsfeeds, “you’re paging up and down and scrolling very quickly. We’re still working with a number of people -- buy- and sell-side -- in our working group to solve that.”
Ivie reinforced that these are industry guidelines and that they are subject to change as technology, content and ad formats, and the way users experience media change.
“I don’t think this is ever going to be stable,” he predicted, adding that the industry will need to “reassess” viewability over time as the way people experience things changes.The MRC is taking public comments on the new proposed guidelines for 30 days, after which it will release new official ones.