It's Here: Measurement For Tougher Viewability Standards

MRC Accredits Moat, Others To Track More Stringent Standards Required by Group M, Unilever

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When GroupM and Unilever announced last year that they want digital ad viewability standards tougher than those established by the broader industry, one argument against their demands was that no one was accredited by the nation's media-measurement arbiter to use the stricter rules. Now, that problem appears largely to be solved (though the question of what the standard should be remains).

Media Rating Council CEO George Ivie said the group has accredited a few companies -- including Moat and others he declined to name -- to measure viewability under rules more stringent than the ones it set for online video and display ads last year. But he added that accredited measurement firms will still be required to report compliance with the MRC standards, and said that one aspect of the GroupM/Unilever preferred standard is impossible to accredit around.

Despite accrediting tougher measurements, the MRC isn't walking away from its standards. The MRC recognizes display ad impressions where at least 50% of pixels are visible for at least a second and video impressions where 50% of the player is in view for at least two seconds.

GroupM and Unilever only count display impressions where 100% of an ad is in view for any length of time and video where 100% of the player is in view; at least half the ad plays; the sound is on; and a person actually clicks to start it. Conde Nast became the first major publisher to publicly agree to those standards last year.

The "nuance," Mr. Ivie said, comes on the display side of the GroupM/Unilever standard, where he said it's impossible to accredit a measurement with no set view time, though the MRC can accredit firms to measure whether 100% of ad pixels are displayed. GroupM and Unilever declined to comment.

"There is an industry standard, and that's the MRC standard," said Sherrill Mane, senior VP-research, analytics and measurement at the Interactive Advertising Bureau. "People are also free to get custom reports," which is how she characterized more stringent measures. She acknowledged that publishers and agencies are free to negotiate by stricter rules.

The MRC standards, arrived at after nearly two years of discussions among industry players and associations, were meant to measure "an opportunity to see" that puts digital ad impressions on a footing similar to TV for cross-platform measurement purposes, Mr. Ivie said.