Media Rating Council Issues Landmark Digital Audience-Based Measurement Standards


The Media Rating Council (MRC) has released new standards for digital audience-based measurement. The Digital Audience-Based Measurement Standards build on the MRC’s prior work on viewable impression measurement and invalid traffic filtration requirements and spell out recommended practices for the collection and processing of information used in the assignment of audience characteristics to impression-level data.

Its release sets the stage for the next phase of the MRC’s standards-setting work: the development of cross-media audience measurement standards, which is targeted for completion in 2018.

The standards represent a key milestone in the MRC’s work as part of the Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) initiative, a joint industry effort supported by the ANA, 4As and IAB, and were developed in collaboration with a large working group comprised of representatives of more than 100 organizations. These organizations represent a wide range of media companies, advertising agencies, brand marketers, measurement vendors and advertising technology companies.

MRC is providing for a one-year grace period for accredited audience measurement services to comply with these new standards. This period will parallel the expected development timeline of the MRC’s cross-media standards.

“The release of these standards represents a formative point of transition for the digital ad market,” says George W. Ivie, CEO and Executive Director of the MRC (pictured top left).  “Not only do these standards provide clear guidance for the measurement of digital audiences, they also put forth the foundational elements on which standards for cross-media measurement will be based, which will be critical to the future of the industry.”  

Important aspects of the Digital Audience-Based Measurement Standards include:

  • The use of Viewable Impressions as the foundational measurement required for the inclusion of a digital ad exposure into an audience-based metric calculation, such as a Gross Rating Point (GRP);
  • Guidance for attributing audience characteristics to impression-level data using a variety of approaches, including panels, census data collection techniques and third-party large data sets, among others;
  • Specifications for the necessary internal and quality controls needed in the preparation of digital audience data, inclusive of the mandated use of Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT) filtration processes to be applied to ad impressions used as input to digital audience measurements;
  • Guidance on projection, calculation and weighting processes;
  • The introduction of the concept of duration weighting for digital video ads, which is put forward to be applied to digital audience measurements to be used in cross-media comparison and analyses.

It should be noted that while MRC is committed to incorporating the concept of duration weighting into its 2018 cross-media audience measurement standards, additional research will be conducted over the next year that may lead to refinements of the requirements around duration weighting for digital ads and those of other media types, which ultimately will be reflected in those forthcoming standards.  Also, the implementation of duration weighting in cross-media measurement ultimately will be dependent upon the ability to achieve appropriate comparability across reported media types.

Concurrent with the release of the Digital Audience-Based Measurement Standards, MRC also issued MRC’s Digital Audience-Based Measurement Standards: A Guide for Marketing and Media Professionals. This separate document is designed to provide general users with a high-level overview of the key provisions of the Digital Audience-Based Measurement Standards and issues related to it.

Both the Digital Audience-Based Measurement Standards and the MRC’s Digital Audience-Based Measurement Standards: A Guide for Marketing and Media Professionals documents are available at


About MRC

The Media Rating Council is a non-profit industry association established in 1963 comprised of leading television, radio, print and digital media companies, as well as advertisers, advertising agencies and trade associations, whose goal is to ensure measurement services that are valid, reliable and effective. Measurement services desiring MRC accreditation are required to disclose to their customers all methodological aspects of their service; comply with the MRC Minimum Standards for Media Rating Research as well as other applicable industry measurement guidelines; and submit to MRC-designed audits to authenticate and illuminate their procedures. In addition, the MRC membership actively pursues research issues they consider priorities in an effort to improve the quality of research in the marketplace. Currently approximately 110 research products are audited by the MRC. Additional information about MRC can be found at


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here