The Internet Advertising Bureau UK has unveiled its guidelines for ‘viewable impressions’ for online display ads, defining an ad as ‘viewable’ if half of it appears in the browser for one second.
The industry body had previously advised companies not to trade using viewability metrics robust, standards had been confirmed between the UK and the US to ensure consistency across both markets.
After tests in the US, the IAB has established the final standards determining what constitutes an ‘in-view’ ad, which is that 50 per cent of pixels must be in the viewable portion of an internet browser for a minimum of one second.
For rising Stars / large-canvas ad formats – the equivalent of a 970 x 250 pixel display ad – the new guidelines state that 30 per cent of pixels must be in view for one second.
Standards for video, mobile and tablet are yet been determined, but are expected to roll out later this year.
IAB’s director of data and industry programmes, Steve Chester said the news signals a “new era” in delivery measurement for the ad industry.
“Moving to viewable impressions offers the valuable prospect of guaranteed impacts for advertisers, who in 2013 spent £1.9bn on digital display. As with any major change, a bedding-in period will be required to fully implement and take advantage of the benefits such as increased brand effectiveness of online, and address challenges such as discrepancies between viewability vendors.”
All industry bodies involved in the process, have flagged that discrepancies between different measurement providers are “inevitable”, and work is underway to tackle this issue.
IPA’s Consultant Head of Media & Emerging Tech, Nigel Gwilliam said: “We support the option of trading on viewable impressions where the buyer considers it appropriate. However, cross industry efforts will and must continue to address discrepancies between the results of different viewability service vendors.”
ISBA’s Marketing Services Manager, David Ellison said: “Advertisers shouldn’t have to pay for ads that aren’t seen. The viewable impressions standards will go some way to answer ISBA members’ demand for a move away from ‘served’ ad impressions to ‘viewable’ ones. Ultimately we want online ads to be comparable to other media that offer the ‘opportunity to see’ as the basis of an ad measurement currency.”
AOP’s Managing Director, Tim Cain said: “We see the importance of a standard for viewable impressions acting as a benchmark and enabling viewability to be considered as a metric, we would suggest however that discrepancies between vendors in the measurement of viewability is a challenging issue that needs to be resolved to enable discussions around trading on viewable impressions to progress.”
Not going far enough?
Andrew Goode, Chief Operating Officer at Project Sunblock comments on why the IAB’s guidelines on viewability don’t go far enough. “Categorising an ad as viewable if it’s shown for one second, is not enough to tackle the problem. Viewability has been a hot topic for the ad industry for a while now, but there’s yet to be any real improvement, with nearly 50% of digital ads still being viewed for less than one second. The reality is that even if the IAB can strong-arm the industry into full scale adoption of their standard, there’s no way of policing it and even if there was, it says nothing about the effectiveness of that one second.
“Thousands of ad impressions wasted every day because advertisers have no insight into where their display ads end up. For example, according to the IAB, at least a third of display impressions are served to non-human traffic; bots are smart and they’re spectacularly good at evading capture and so the problem will only get worse if advertisers don’t act. Whilst advertisers go on buying display ad impressions through automated buying cycles such as Real Time Bidding, they’ll continue to be totally blind to where their ads are being served. Unless they take proactive ownership of where and for how long their ad impressions are displayed, they’ll risk ploughing money into the bank accounts of illegal websites or to those people who’re out to profit from scamming the system.”
Read more on the official IAB page here