The Media Rating Council (MRC), Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) released the final guidelines for ad measurement among in-app, mobile web and desktop platforms, according to a statement made available to Mobile Marketer.
The revised guidelines shift valid ad impression counting to a “count-on-begin-to-render” minimum, which occurs later in the ad-serving process than previous guidelines allowed. The groups removed references to “served” impressions from the guidelines, saying that the change better defines ad impressions that have the potential to be viewable.
The groups also are seeking public comments on updates to the IAB Digital Video Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines by November 30. The video guidelines can be reviewed at www.mediaratingcouncil.org. The MRC plans to allow a one-year grace period for accredited measurement services to achieve compliance with the new guidelines.
Digital ad measurement has received greater scrutiny in the past year as brands have had to contend with fraud, ad placements next to objectionable content and a lack of transparency among digital platforms. The new guidelines on ad impression counting won’t necessarily solve these problems, but they will provide some greater peace of mind to advertisers that don’t want to be over-billed for invalid ad impressions by shifting the focus from served ads — which aren't necessarily seen on a device if there's a slow connection — to rendered, which means the ad has actually appeared on a screen.
A key concern of marketers is that the ads they pay for are actually viewed by someone, with what counts as a viewed ad on mobile often being a moving target in the past. The new guidelines seek to create a common standard by which brands, agencies, vendors and platforms can measure impressions. With more accurate measurements, brands can potentially better understand their return on investment for mobile, which could lead to bigger spends on mobile if the results are strong.
The accurate measurement of ad views has been a big topic in digital marketing this year beyond simply the issue of served vs. rendered. A network of fraudulent websites was said to scam more than 100 major brands including P&G, Unilever, Hershey's, Johnson & Johnson, Ford and MGM for what could be millions of dollars, BuzzFeed News reported last month. About 40 "zombie websites" with names like BeautyTips.online and RightParent.com, some of which were barely functional and appeared to have copy written in poorly translated English, were found to contain code designed to generate as many fraudulent views on video ads as possible, according to the report.
Last week, Twitter took steps to achieve Media Rating Council accreditation by submitting measurement metrics for an audit, Adweek reported. After independent certified public accountant auditors review the social network’s compliance with industry standards, the next step will be final audit to be completed in the first half of 2018.