Media Rating Council Proposes Mobile Viewability Definition That Matches Desktop

Leaves Door Open to Weaker Standard for Newsfeeds Like Facebook's

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MRC CEO George Ivie.
MRC CEO George Ivie. Credit: Media Rating Council

The marketing industry's Media Rating Council has proposed long-awaited guidelines for ad viewability on mobile devices, essentially leaving its interim guidance in place but setting aside one potentially contentious issue for after a comment period that ends April 30.

The proposed MRC rule calls for mobile ads to meet the same threshold as those on desktop computers: At least 50% of pixels in view for at least one second for display ads, two seconds for video ads. That's the same as the interim guidance issued last year.

The MRC said it will study whether ads in mobile newsfeeds demand less time on-screen, however, before it finalizes the guidelines. Facebook in particular would benefit from a looser standard of a half-second for ads in fast-moving newsfeeds.

"As of today, MRC has not concluded that different thresholds are necessary," the group said in its statement.

ESPN, which has been part of the MRC's mobile viewability study, presented research at an Advertising Research Foundation conference last month suggesting viewer response justifies a half-second standard for mobile.

As it is, the MRC's desktop viewability standards have been controversial with many marketers and agencies, who say they aren't stringent enough for ads to convey a meaningful message. The MRC, along with partners in the process that include the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Association of National Advertisers, have defended the standard as defining only an "opportunity to see," not an effective ad, which also depends on creative capturing attention.

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