"We want to put display-ad units on an equal footing with other
media," said IAB Senior VP Research, Analytics and Measurement
Sherrill Mane. "The adoption of viewable impressions will ... give
the media community comfort and security for brand advertisers to
At first blush, it sounds like a boon for advertisers, but a
challenge for publishers, who stand to lose a number of the ad
impressions for which they previously charged advertisers.
But Ms. Mane argues viewability metrics will help publishers
better understand the valuation of inventory -- "This is the first
step towards properly segmenting inventory. All units are not
Typically, top-of -page placements command highest prices, but
research shows that in many cases these are overlooked in favor of
in-content or below-the-fold placements -- it all depends on the
type of content and how people consume it. What's surprising is how
little of these publishers know and use.
As an example, recipe sites actually have higher viewability
rates of ads below-the-fold than top of page placements and we're
now "able to unearth the gold below the fold," said Linda Abraham,
CMO of ComScore.
Yaakov Kimelfeld, Ph.D., senior VP-digital research and
analytics director at MediaVest, said his agency has sought out
these placements on some sites as they typically were lower priced
but had great impact for campaigns. "The publishers had premium
inventory and they don't know about it," he said.
The ComScore data suggest the new standard will have greatest
impact on networks and exchanges that trade in "long tail
inventory" -- that on smaller sites -- which showed the lowest
rates of viewability in the ComScore test . Sites that fell below
the top 500 in terms of reach had average viewability rates of 61%;
sites in the top 50 had 77%, according to the ComScore study. Many
publishers and agency executives are firmly in support of the
viewability initiative. "We have to learn to speak the same
language with online and offline if we want to move packaged-goods
business to interactive," said John Montgomery, Group M Interaction
chief operating officer. "We've got to start with the same
Added David Cohen, chief media officer of Universal McCann and
Chair of the 4A's interactive-media council: "This is the most
realistic view of internet ads that will move the business. ...
It's a new currency that we can organize around."
But others, such as Michael Hayes, president of Initiative
Digital Worldwide, see problems. "The way we serve, track and
reconcile, plus the billing, is based on IAB standards set up years
ago. We are going to have to completely change to adjust [to
viewable]. The two main companies that control more than 80% of the
ad-serving market do not measure this way," he says referring to
Google's DoubleClick and Microsoft's Atlas
He also noted that agencies don't use ComScore or Nielsen to pay
invoices, "so why pick them for this initiative?" His fear: The
industry is going to end up with two methodologies (standard
definition and viewable) and "these do not mix well."
He also sees an initiative like this as not necessary in light
of what an agency can do: "If you are doing your job well, you are
optimizing the media. The ad placement not viewed will get
eliminated due to the sheer nature of its performance."
Ms. Mane said that ad servers, such as DoubleClick and Atlas,
are involved with the initiative through the MRC and the industry
should expect developments in the near future. Executives at Google
DoubleClick declined to comment.
Others involved include ComScore, whose Campaign Essentials
product spits out a vGRP (or validated Gross Ratings Point) that
has eliminated not only nonviewable ads, but also ads that do not
fit the target audiences or geography, ads served on inappropriate
content and fraudulent ads that served to nonhumans like spiders
and bots. Nielsen, meanwhile, has built viewability into its Online
Campaign Ratings tool, and has an online version of a GRP tool that
they refer to as an eGRP or effective GRP.
Other companies that offer viewability measures include Say
Media through its Clean Campaign product, Collective through its
AMP ad-serving platform and RealVu, a company with a stated mission
of having "viewable impressions replace CPMs as an industry
standard." Analytics company Adometry announced in March that they
could do attribution modeling based on viewed rather than served