MRC Finalizes Cross-Media Standard, Revises Duration Weighting To 'Relative' Approach

The Media Rating Council (MRC) has released a final version of the advertising and media industry’s new standards for cross-media audience measurement, including a significant revision to a controversial component that would require audience measurement companies to weight the duration of ad impressions calculated across video ad platforms.

The MRC said it is moving to a weighting process that uses a “relative” denominator based on the actual length of the specific ad being measured vs. its previous recommendation of a “fixed” denominator based on an industry standard 30-second ad impression.

The MRC said it is making the adjustment following a series of discussions with industry stakeholders, especially from the demand-side, who believe the relative approach is a more fair and accurate way of accounting for the audience delivered by each ad unit.

The duration weights, which will not become required until January 2021, effectively create a common denominator for evaluating the audience delivered across video platforms, including conventional linear TV, over-the-top and digital video.



In all cases, the duration weights credit only the portion of the ads that were actually exposed to users with 100% of their pixels and with audio present for video ads with an audio component.

All other aspects of the originally proposed standards -- including that measurement estimates must first filter for sophisticated invalid audience traffic -- remain the same.

13 comments about "MRC Finalizes Cross-Media Standard, Revises Duration Weighting To 'Relative' Approach".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 4, 2019 at 1:02 p.m.

    Joe, this new "standard" has nothing to do with determining whether the "audience" actually watched an ad, let alone the impact of that ad. Accordingly,  this tiny step forward, while still debateable regarding the changed definition, does not really get us to where many were hoping---how can we compare audience metrics across TV/video platforms? We still can't and, as before, individual advertisers will have to make their own subjective assessments of what a 6-second digital video commercial is worth in terms of ad impact value relative to a 30-second "linear TV message. I have always felt that this was an impossible- to- answer question as there are too many case-specific variables for any formula approach to deal with.

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., September 4, 2019 at 1:21 p.m.

    @Ed Papazian: You are correct in your "understanding" of the new standard. It simply is a standard for accounting for ad exposure, not whether it was watched. The MRC never implied it would be otherwise.

    But this standard is an important building block for higher order worker the MRC is in the process of undertaking, including outcome-based measurement. Stay tuned.

    Re. "subjective assessments" of worth, that's normally what marketplaces figure out.

  3. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy replied, September 6, 2019 at 4:47 p.m.

    Sorry but in my opinion you have this giant MRC mis-step element of the new Standards mis-represented and as such keep falling into the trap that Ed clearly and correctly identified.  Your words:  "... a Standard for accounting for Ad exposure" with the implication that duration weighting is an important part of the new Cross Media Audience Measurement Standards.  Surely rubbish?  I believe this position is confirmed by the cognescenti that have commented extensively on several previous articles on "duration weighted visible impressions"!  Some of the cognoscenti have also recommended that duration weighting, which remains misunderstood and misinterpreted, shoud be dropped from these Standards; and further, that "outcome" based measurement or "impacts" as some of us call it should be be left well alone by MRC.  At least until they require as a Standard the measurement of actual audience "contact" or "ad (or content) exposure" versus merely gross impressions.  And even then this level of measurement standards may be a bridge too far?  "Contacts" are very very different from "impacts" as the global OOH industry fully understand.  

    Cannot wait for further comments from Media Post's readers. 

    Disclosure:  I am privildeged to sit on the MRC Working Commitee for these proposed Standards but these particular comments are strictly the position of Olympic Media Consultancy.

  4. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., September 6, 2019 at 8:29 p.m.

    @Tony Jarvis: Sorry you deem our reporting "rubbish," but at least it is attributed to an identifiable source -- the Media Rating Council -- and not an anonymized "cognescenti," which I assume means you and/or other members of your privileged "working committee" you are speaking on behalf of. What I reported is based on what the MRC told me. If you are representing a contrarian view, you should make an official statement.

  5. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, September 9, 2019 at 3:52 p.m.

    Just for clarification:
    As stated, my comments were solely those of OMC and not on behlaf of the MRC Working Committee whose deliberations are and remain confidential. 
    The cognoscenti referred to were as referenced: the media reserch gurus that have extensively commented in Media Post on 'Duration Weighting' articles including Ed Papazian; Dorothy Higgins; Nicholas Schiavone; John Gruno; Joel Rubinson; and myself as just a gnu; among others.
    As to my "rubbish" suggestion made with the greatest respect, it merely, but I believe importantly, was directed to underline Ed's initial comment regarding your piece, that this Standard does not require audience exposure or ad impact measurement a critcal missing dimension in virtually all audience measurement today.  Further it is clear that MRC staff are committed to duration weighting of viewable impressions as you reported despite its rejection by some of the best media researchers in the business - the flip side of this story!
    I would add that "duration weighted viewable impressions" remains significantly misunderstood and is per Geroge Ivie (Media Post) no more than a preliminary control factor prior to any actual audience measurement being executed.  As such no different say, from excluding men in proceeding with a survey of women.  As video audiences that generate an actual exposure (versus commonly inadequate gross impressions) are not measured or reported at the second by second level it appears the the entire duration weighting concept is irrelevant and should be dropped from the proposed Standards. 

  6. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., September 9, 2019 at 4:21 p.m.

    @Tony Jarvis: Ah, in that case, I would like to bestow mutual rubbish upon you or any other "cognoscenti," who either don't know how to read or are selectively ignoring what the duration-weighted component of these new standards actually represent: a way of processing and accounting for a component of cross-platform audience measurement.

    This component strictly addresses how measurement firms should credit a viewable impression as part of a cross-media audience measurement. It's just a building block or a denominator, not a measure of audience exposure, outcomes or anything else.

    Those measurements are subject to other industry vetting -- including the MRC, if they're seeking to be accredited -- or if not, the marketplace itself.

    Coincidentally, the MRC is now embarking on standards for measuring outcomes.

    I understand your criticism of the value of duration weighting, and you are entitled to your point-of-view.

  7. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 9, 2019 at 5:01 p.m.

    I must say that I find several  things about all of this intersting and perhaps, significant. First, the TV network people have been very silent about much, if not all of this---at least for public consumption. Does anyone know where they stand or whether they agree with what is happening? Second, regarding the next phase---measuring "outcomes"--- this is surprising ----unless there is some sort of concensus about what is meant by "outcomes". Are they thinking about measuring immediate or delayed sales or share-of-market lifts. If so, how will they handle "linear TV" where no such information is available for many product categories? Or are other indicators to be used---for example, "eyes-on-screen" research ( TVision? ) ---or ad recall/motivational findings, etc. If any of these are part of the plan, they will have to differentiate between commercial lengths and other variables---commercial clutter in break, program type, demos, etc.This seems like a tall order and one which may be difficult to handle in terms of obtaining a representative base.

    I may be wrong on this---if so, I welcome any clarification by Joe, Tony or others---but this is looking more and more like a digitally driven exercise, not a joint effort by all of the presumably interested parties. I sincerely hope that the latter is what we finally get, not the former.

  8. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, September 11, 2019 at 2:33 p.m.

    Ed, as usual, is spot on regrarding how these Standards including even the revised version of 'duration weighted viewable impressions' will, or possibly more likely, will not be readily applicable to linear TV and certainly problematic to other major media platforms in view of their focus on digitial video.  Raising "what is meant by outcomes" and the complexities of what dimensions of that arena to measurement entail are unlikely to achieve any meaningful consensus from any MRC Committee. 
    Once again Ed underlined the fundamental difference and importance of requiring measurement of ad exposure or "eyes-on" and its complexities as any first step before addressing ad impact.  Surely measurement beyond gross impressions to ad exposure needs to be mandated by MRC in order to earn an accredited media currency before considering the pursuit of any Standards for the measurement of outcomes or 'impacts'?
    Geroge Ivie in a recent interview in Media Post correctly, I believe, recognised that incorporating other major media platforms into the current proposed Cross Media Audience Measurement Standards (Phase I Video) would be "much more challenging".  I suggest that this is a huge understatement.  As such, should other major media and critically advertisers investing in complex mixes of media be asking the MRC not to release the proposed Standards until the myriad of "challenges" that incorporating other major media will drive based on the current "final draft" are fully identifed along with solutions for incorporation at least in principle.  Otherwise the industry could be accused of closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. 
    As the new head of the ANA's new "Measurement for Marketers" perhaps these issues are a top prioriity for ANA EVP Bill Tucker and his "Measurement Advisory Board"?

  9. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., September 11, 2019 at 2:55 p.m.

    @Tony Javis: You are conflating what these standards -- including duration weighted viewable impressisions -- were created to do vs. these higher order measurement objectives. The MRC is taking it one step at a time. They are just building blocks. Also, why in the world are they "no appplicable to linear TV?" They account for any cross-media platform that TV advertising is distributed across.

  10. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 12, 2019 at 1:30 a.m.

    Guys, several points about this interesting discussion.

    First, regarding applying the new standard to "linear TV" we are actually referring to national TV not local, which accounts for about 40% of spending. The reason: local TV does not have commercial minute ratings, only program plus any other content "viewing" on a quarter hour basis. This is unlikely to change as doing so would entail considerable effort and greater expense to the stations, many of whom would, no doubt, balk at higher research rates.

    Second, regarding national TV where Nielsen does supply what it calls commercial minute ratings, I assume that were a new standard to be accepted, it would mandate a distinction by commercial length and, in theory, the rating service---Nielsen---would be expected to provide a separate rating for each commercial weighted by duration, not an average commercial minute rating ----which in reality does not strictly apply literally to each ad in that minute anyway. As a result, we would be getting commercial by commercial ratings for every episode of each program---a ton of data with very little differentiation between individual ads and, certainly, no indication that any of them were really "viewed". Or, would we get an average rating for each commercial length per break? Has this aspect been thought out? For, example, what does Nielsen report for each telecast for each show---an average rating for all of its "15"s and "30"s separately? Or, maybe a weighted average of all lengths by duration---in which case the results are not comparable from one episode to another or from one show to another as the mix of commercial lengths will never be a constant.

    We are dealing with a very complex situation and , as Joe points out, whatever comes out of this first step will not be the final solution. Still, we should recognize that going from averages---minutes or by ad lengths---probably works far better for TV but much less so for digital.Which creates another set of problems to be resolved. Even if there is some way to define and  measure "outcomes"---the" next step"----in a valid manner across TV/video platforms we must also find a meaningful way to tally and present the information so it has some normative meaning for advertisers. That wont be an easy task.

  11. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., September 12, 2019 at 8 a.m.

    @Ed Papazian: Respectfully, I have to say this comment indicates the cognoscenti are not fully cognizant of what the standards actually represent. I think the problem is you are conflating standards with measurement.

    They actually are standards for creating new, cross-media measurement services that would inherently have to measure all commerial exposure. Not "commercial minute ratings," as Nielsen currently defines them, but the explicit portion of a video ad actually in view on a viewer's screen, and only for the duration it is viewable. That's the whole point of the duration-weighted viewable impression.

    Again, these are standards, not measurement systems. The measurement systems need to be created, launched, vetted, and -- maybe even MRC accredited. But these are the industry standards they shoudl be developed on.

    Re. "national" vs. "local," those also are anacrhonisms that need to be thought out as part of the development of any new cross-media measurement system, because the definition of geographic boundaries isn't explicitly confined to the concept of DMAs, ADIs, or whatever you want to call it.

    I think the real problem here is that the cognoscenti are putting the cogs before the horse. Now that seminal standards are in place, the industry can start building systems based on them, as well as higher order standards that are just now being developed.

  12. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 12, 2019 at 8:15 a.m.

    Joe, I believe that those of us who are commenting understand what you are saying---but we are concerned that the vast majority of media types will take the new standards as "industry-accepted" indicators of value or exposure and run with them without bothering to read the fine print. In my case and, I believe Tony's also, we are saying don't do it step by step but try to anticipate the bigger issues and deal with them first. That takes longer, of course, which is the root of the problem as we are rushing to get answers. Haste often makes waste.

  13. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., September 12, 2019 at 8:22 a.m.

    @Ed Papazian: The good news is the industry now has established standards in place to check the "vast majority of media types" that try to develop "indicators of value" without the industry also accepting them. Whether that is via marketplace consensus or through MRC accreditation or some other means, the industry should be able to regulate itself.

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