- March 31, 2014

Lifting of MRC Advisory on Digital Ad Viewability Signals New Era of Accountability

As a career media researcher, one of the most exciting things for me about working in the digital space, and at Comscore, is the way that technology is infused into digital audience measurement. Innovation in digital comes at a pace that seems blindingly fast to the traditional media researcher. And that’s exciting.

This morning, the MRC announced it has officially lifted its advisory on viewable impressions for display ads. This is an important milestone for the digital advertising market as it green-lights the industry to transact using viewable impressions for display ads. Ultimately, this creates greater accountability and signals a fundamental shift in how digital ad buyers and sellers will transact going forward.

Comscore Releases Improved See-Through Rate for Viewability
The MRC advisory, originally announced in November 2012, noted at the time that “the number of impressions in a campaign for which viewability cannot be determined is often significant.” The primary culprit was cross-domain i-frames, which made viewability measurement difficult for the large majority of display ads.

When the concept of the “viewable impression” first entered the lexicon, vendors providing viewability measurement were not able to see into—or “view through”—ads served in these cross-domain i-frames, which profoundly limited the projectability of campaign viewability metrics. After several years of development, Comscore introduced a technology for seeing into some (i.e. non-webkit browser) cross-domain i-frames in 2011; at the time this seemed like such a dramatic accomplishment that many in the industry simply didn’t believe it could be done. Now, through a hybrid approach that combines the Geometric method with a technique we call the Timing method, Comscore is able to see into about 95% of all impressions. This enhancement positively impacts viewability reporting in validated Campaign Essentials (vCE), which measures advertisers’ digital campaigns, as well as in validated Media Essentials (vME), our publisher-side inventory optimization solution.

If you’d asked me eighteen months ago what I thought the determining criterion ought to be in choosing a viewability measurement provider, I would have said see-through rate—the share of total campaign impressions into which the vendor’s technology can see, and thus make a viewability disposition on. But the ability to see into 95% or more of served impressions—considered to be impossible just two years ago—has now become table stakes. Comscore is one of several solution providers that deploys a hybrid solution to attain such high see-through rates. The market has quickly evolved past see-through as a differentiator, and users are able to make their vendor selector decision based on the breadth of product benefits and offerings each provides.

Delivering Value to Buyers and Sellers
At Comscore, we believe the value of our viewability solutions stem from accuracy, comprehensiveness and actionability. Our sophisticated methodology ensures the most accurate measurements of viewability, but what’s truly notable is how these metrics are integrated into holistic solutions – in both vCE and vME – that allow us to report a single, unduplicated measure of campaign delivery based on in-target and in-view rates. We can do this through the use of a single ad tag, which enables unduplicated reporting of audience delivery, viewability, geography, engagement and brand safety.

Importantly, we are also deeply committed to delivering both our advertiser and publisher clients the benefits of viewability measurement in a way that helps facilitate their ability to transact. That is why Comscore today has viewability measurement in both vCE and vME.

We also want to ensure that Comscore’s metrics are easy for clients to use and to integrate into their existing planning and buying workflows. That is a big reason why we recently announced that audience data from vCE would be integrated into Google’s DoubleClick platform for advertisers and publishers, making Comscore’s data even easier to access.

The Next Frontier
This is truly an exciting time for digital. Collectively, these shifts herald a new era in providing accountable, high-performance digital advertising for brand marketers and media companies.