Today’s Burning Question: Reaction to the MRC’s Ad Viewability Decision


ADOTAS — Earlier this week, the Media Rating Council (MRC) announced that it has lifted its advisory on Viewable Impressions for display advertising, giving a green light to the industry to begin transacting on the new metric for the first time. In collaboration with the IAB’s Emerging Innovations Task Force, a large working group consisting of a wide range of industry stakeholders,  the MRC also released its Viewable Impression Measurement Guidelines, which spell out specific parameters for how viewable impressions should be measured. The Guidelines draft, which has been in the works for more than a year, will be circulated for a 30-day period for public review to ensure broad dissemination and to permit for minor outstanding revisions.

In Today’s Burning Question, we asked industry leaders for their thoughts on the MRC’s decision. Here’s how they responded:

“While I applaud the MRC for moving the industry in the right direction, according to its guidelines, only 50% of an ad’s pixels must show up in the ‘viewable’ portion of a web browser for one second. That’s just not enough. We’re letting weak standards define a critical metric for marketers. To truly meet brand marketers’ objectives, digital ads must be 100% viewable 100% percent of the time in a high-quality environment. Only cross-platform social game advertising can achieve this and garners performance averages as high as 47X what standard online advertising can achieve.” — Ari Brandt, CEO of MediaBrix.

“At a higher level, yes, intuitively it makes a lot of sense to start transacting on viewable impressions. I mean, how can a user convert if he is not seeing the ad? Theoretically, it’s a good move for the industry and it will be interesting to see (1) what affect it will have on performance metrics and (2) what the demand for viewable impressions will look like a year or two from now. And if it IS on the forefront of media buyers minds, what happens to the publishers and networks/exchanges that don’t play ball? Do I think it makes sense to monitor ad campaigns for viewability? Of course. Do I think it is reasonable to hold your network/publisher partners accountable for their viewability rates? Absolutely. However, as an industry, we’ll need to proceed with caution since the technology provider’s ability to measure for viewability is often still very limited. To be honest, the MRC’s lift of the advisory seems a bit premature, at least until the measurability rate can improve substantially. In any event, there is no doubt that this lift WILL light a fire under the [good] inventory sources. Advertisers, however, will just need to prepare to pay a premium to gobble up the soon-to-be limited inventory pool.” — Craig Simmons, Product Strategy and Operations Manager for Ad Verification and Viewability at Exponential Interactive.

“This is great news for the industry. Marketers, publishers and the many channels and technologies that live in-between them have all been moving in this direction, some more quickly than others. This announcement will help accelerate the demand for viewable impressions that in the long run will benefit everyone.” — Mike Kisseberth, CRO, TechMedia Network.

“This is an important debate and one that we also see taking place across Latin America. Display and video advertising will continue to be an important part of the digital mix for advertisers in our region. However, we believe that an increase in trusted and transparent metrics will also need to accompany this model to ensure its long-term success. In Latin America, we’re also seeing an increased interest in performance advertising – in which the model is pay-per-action, which speaks to the marketer’s desire for clear results and measurable ROI in digital advertising. Notably, two of our partners — Twitter and Foursquare, have advertising products based on this pay-per-engagement approach, which we believe will continue to perform very well in this market.” — Maren Lau, CMO,  Internet Media Services (IMS).

“This marks a significant turning point for the advertising industry. Ad viewability continues to be a critical objective for advertisers and publishers because billions of dollars are on the table. With so much invested, metrics that accurately monitor viewable impressions for an evolving digital era are a necessity. Advancements in advertising technology provide insights at a level of granularity and sophistication greater than ever before. Chief among measurement of ad impressions for the modern era is the ability to accurately determine time spent viewing digital ads. We believe this is a major step forward for the industry, one that will bring benefits for the whole ecosystem, and assist the shift of more TV dollars into digital. WebSpectator is pleased to be at the forefront of empowering advertisers and publishers to understand this new metric. We’re also proud to be in a select group of companies accredited to work with this metric and look forward to helping the MRC/IAB moving forward on the topic.” — André Parreira, Founder & CEO of WebSpectator.

“The MRC’s latest move is an important evolutionary step in honing the global digital advertising currency to metrics that matter. While some are raising valid questions about how to value and price viewable impressions, the mirror image of the issue is even more interesting: what’s the value and appropriate pricing for unviewable impressions? For platforms like OneSpot, that are geared to deliver not just media campaign metrics, but real business results, the move to viewability validates our business model and value prop.” — Adam Weinroth, CMO of OneSpot.

“The lifting of the advisory on viewability is a significant step in the right direction and both advertisers and publishers will benefit from it in the long run. The new MRC guidelines provide transparency to the measurement methodologies and open the door to a more consistent measurement of viewability. There are multiple things to be considered when evaluating vendor solutions such as the coverage of the browser environments, accounting for digital fraud and more. Hopefully, this meaningful step will help the industry move towards a more efficient and accurate pricing for advertisers while helping publishers better understand their inventory and price consistently with media quality.” — Kiril Tsemekhman, Chief Data Officer, Integral Ad Science.

“This is way long overdue. The buy side has been getting shafted for years on this. If real significant brand dollars are ever to find their way to digital, this is a step in the right direction to help convince major advertisers they get what they pay for (like in TV). That’s why we offer 100% viewable ad impressions, or we kill the buy, pre-auction.” — Chip Meyers, CEO, ReactX.

“There are key common sense developments in the MRC’s new guidelines. In particular, the new guidelines demonstrate that the diversity of ad formats and the way they function means there cannot be one simple rule that sets the viewability standard for all ad formats. In addition, the recognition that user interaction is a metric for viewability, and the segregation of this viewability metric from the mere percentage of an ad viewed metric, will give brands a far clearer concept of the efficacy of their digital ad campaigns.” — Craig Gooding, CEO, Vibrant Media.

“It’s great to see MRC lift its advisory on viewable impressions for display ads, especially since ensuring viewability is essential to providing the highest standards of digital advertising solutions for brands. Digital advertising success is reliant on advertisers’ ability to buy media with confidence and transparency. At Adconion Direct, we introduced our In-View product in October 2012 to prepare for the time when viewable impressions would become the industry standard – and that time has arrived.” – Michael Parkes, SVP of Sales at Adconion Direct.



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