MRC makes 'viewability' metric for online display, video a reality

Now, marketers have a new metric with which to gauge the performance of online display and video advertising. The Media Ratings Council has given the go-ahead for the marketing and advertising industry to use, for the first time, its viewability metric.

The metric will go a long way in establishing an industry measurement standard that lets marketers and advertisers compare data from various vendors no matter what kind of process that vendor uses.

"The Viewable Impression metric represents a huge step forward in the online advertising landscape," said George W. Ivie, executive director-CEO of MRC, in a statement. "By adopting this standard for viewable display impressions, the entire marketplace–agencies, marketers and publishers–will benefit from the improved quality and accountability of digital advertising. This shift will ultimately benefit the entire advertising ecosystem by paving the way to better cross-platform campaign planning and analysis."

The MRC, which is responsible for setting and implementing industry measurement standards, in partnership with the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Emerging Innovations Task Force, released the "Viewable Impression Measurement Guidelines." The draft, which has been in the works for more than a year, details specific parameters for how viewable impressions should be measured and will be circulated for a 30-day period for public review.

The guidelines state that 50 percent of pixels must be in the viewable portion of an internet browser for a minimum of one continuous second to qualify as a viewable display impression. The organization said the move away from served impressions to viewable impressions will provide marketers with a more accurate way to quantify their investment and deliver increased value for all parties involved in brand advertising.

"What does this mean? Practically speaking, it means that—as of today—for brand advertising, agencies can and will expect guarantees on viewable display impressions, with video to come soon after," said Sherrill Mane, senior VP-research, analytics and measurement at the IAB, in a blog post. "This means that one of the major obstacles to being included in brand allocations has finally been removed. The devaluation of below-the-fold impressions has been forever banished!  Every seller ready to implement should be shouting loudly, 'a display ad impression now provides an 'opportunity to see,'' just like other media!"

To educate the industry, 3MS, an initiative founded by 4A's, ANA and the IAB, created a video and launched a revamped website to provide advertisers, agencies and publishers with the information about viewability and other measurement initiatives that will benefit the industry.

The MRC is holding off for 90 days in making the metric an industry standard to let the marketplace get used to the change.

For more:
-See this MRC press release
-See MRC & IAB guidelines
-See this IAB blog post

For more:
At the IAB Annual: President-CEO Rothenberg outlines "Five Pillars" to shape industry's future
Industry group promotes viewability metric to better account for display ad ROI
Google Analytics rolls out tool to help B2B marketers determine impact of display, video ads on conversion path
Web video companies band together to establish standard video viewing metrics
Google's viewability metric goes beyond clicks, impressions