IAB claims full viewability measurement is not possible

IAB claims full viewability measurement is not possible
Liz Morrell is a freelance business journalist and content creator with more than 20 years writing experience, including 15 in retail and associated sectors. She is a regular contributor to MarketingTech but also covers a number of other industries in her freelance capacity. Contact her via LinkedIn or at liz@techforge.pub.


Full viewability measurement of digital advertising is not yet possible according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). The claim comes only a couple of weeks after analysis from Google’s tracking metric for viewable ads showed that more than half of all served ads are not measured viewable.

The IAB has published a new positioning paper that makes the claim called the State of Viewability Transaction in 2015, which aims to offer guidance to the digital media and advertising agencies on how to shift the digital media’s audience currency to 100% viewability.

Although it reported much had already been done in partnership with itself, the ANA and the 4As to steward the historic change in advertising measurement it says that there is still work to do before the metric is ccompletely successful.

The IAB also says that 2015 will be a year of transition and that advertising agencies, publishers, marketers and advertising technologies should work together in order to ensure the new currency can be implemented across the digital advertising ecosystem.

Viewability has some way to go

The paper claims that the IAB supports claims made earlier in the year by the Media Rating Council (MRC) that it is “unreasonable for advertisers, agencies and publishers implementing viewable impressions as measurement currency to expect to observe viewable rates of 100% in their analysis of their campaigns.”

The IAB’s president and CEO Randall Rothenberg said that he shared the MRC’s view that full viewability is unreasonable since different ad units, browsers, ad placements, vendors and measurement methodologies can spawn a variety of different numbers when it comes to viewability.

“It’s time to set the record straight about what is technically and commercially feasible, in order to get ourselves on an effective road to 100% viewability and greater accountability for digital media,” he said.

He said that rather than “holding guns to each other’s heads” publishers, agencies, marketers and ad tech companies should focus instead on working collaboratively together to ensure that measurement makes sense and works.

Seven principles of viewability

The IAB is recommending that such bodies adhere to the following seven principles during 2015:

  1. All billing should continue to be based on the number of Served Impressions during a campaign and these should be separated into two categories: Measured and Non-Measured.
  2. Given the limitations of current technology, and the publisher observed variances in measurement of 30-40%, it is recommended that in this year of transition, Measured Impressions be held to a 70% viewability threshold.
  3. If a campaign does not achieve the 70% viewability threshold for Measured Impressions, publishers make good with additional Viewable Impressions until the threshold is met. Such a guarantee assures that all paid measurable ad impressions will be viewable at a threshold that both exceeds the minimum standard and falls within observed variances.
  4. All make-goods should be in the form of additional Viewable Impressions, not cash, and should be delivered in a reasonable time frame. Make-good impressions should be both Viewable and generally consistent with inventory that was purchased in the original campaign. Determination of threshold achievement is based on total campaign impressions, not by each line item. In other words, some line items may not achieve threshold, but others can compensate.
  5. For large format ads, defined as 242,500 pixels or over, a Viewable Impression is counted if 30% of the pixels of the ad are viewable for a minimum of one continuous second, as noted in the “MRC Viewable Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines.”
  6. All transactions between buyers and sellers should use MRC accredited vendors only.
  7. A buyer and a seller should agree on a single measurement vendor ahead of time. The industry aspires to variances of no more than 10% between viewability measures provided by different vendors. All stakeholders must avoid costly, labour-intensive, error-prone manual processes of reconciling different sets of viewability numbers, hence the benefits of agreeing on a single vendor.

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