Is viewability ready for prime time? Much ground has been covered since the first viewability alarm bells went off, warning advertisers that the vast majority of the impressions they purchase are never seen by consumers.
The industry — principally the 3MS program in partnership with the Media Ratings Council (MRC) — have come together to define just what makes an impression viewable, and numerous ad-tech vendors have developed and rolled out solutions for measuring viewability.
Although many in the industry, advertisers in particular, expected to transact media buys based on viewability beginning in 2014, however that didn’t quite happen. In fact, the MRC issued an advisory stating that viewability wasn’t quite ready for prime time, mostly because there was no agreement on the true operational application of the measurement. Then in April 2014, the MRC lifted its advisory, giving the green light for buyers and sellers to use viewability as a currency, at least for display advertising (at the time video still faced additional challenges according to the MRC).
On November 19, 2014, GroupM sent shockwaves through the publishing community when it announced it would “forego the 3MS and MRC backed viewability standard for online ads (50% of pixels in view for one second) and demand 100% viewable inventory without paying more.”
While at least one publisher sought to accommodate GroupM’s demand, many pushed back, causing the IAB to act. In its State of Viewability Transaction 2015 the IAB issued the following recommendation: “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.” GroupM announced it would “forego the 3MS and MRC backed viewability standard for online ads (50% of pixels in view for one second) and demand 100% viewable inventory without paying more.”
So what are the mitigating factors that have stymied the adoption of transacting media based on viewability? The 614 Group explores two major issues:
- Lack of forecasting preparedness
- Discrepancies in viewability counts