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Industry releases ad viewability standards

The IAB and Viewable Impressions Cross Industry Working Group* - a large working group consisting of trade associations including the IPA, media owners, agencies and ad technology platforms has today (15th April) released a set of UK Viewable Impressions standards to offer guidance and greater accountability for advertisers.


The standards give a green light to the industry for those wishing to trade against viewability to begin trading on the new metric for the first time. They mirror guidelines released in the US at the beginning of April, following extensive collaboration between IAB UK and IAB US to agree common transatlantic standards, ensuring consistency across both markets. Additional European markets will follow in due course.

The standards state that 50 per cent of pixels must be in the viewable portion of an internet browser for a minimum of one continuous second to qualify as a viewable display impression for a standard display ad. For Rising Stars/large canvas ad formats (at or in excess of 242,500 pixels, equivalent to the size of a 970 x 250 pixel display ad), given their substantial size, the guidelines state that 30 per cent of pixels must be in the view for a minimum of one continuous second to qualify as viewable. Standards, for video, mobile and tablet have not yet been determined, but are expected later in 2014 and beyond respectively.

The viewable impression standards have been released to enable the entire marketplace, agencies, advertisers and publishers to benefit from improved quality, accountability and effectiveness of digital advertising. The standards, which could effectively be the start of a new trading currency for those wishing to implement them, will require a settling in period but they will deliver significant benefits for marketers and publishers. Harnessing the unique strength of online, brand advertisers will enjoy greater accountability, whilst allowing publishers to maximise the value of their inventory.

An accreditation framework for viewability vendors operating in the UK was approved by the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS) in January 2014, and the first vendors are currently undertaking verification, with the first batch of approvals expected in the summer. To date, eleven vendors have already been approved by the Media Ratings Council (MRC) in the US.

Discrepancies between different measurement providers are inevitable; however extensive work is underway to address the issue to provide greater transparency and guidance to the market.

IAB’s Director of Data and Industry Programmes, Steve Chester said: Today’s announcement heralds a new era in delivery measurement for the advertising 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.

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.”

* About Viewable Impressions Cross-Industry Working Group: The Viewable Impressions Cross-Industry Working formed by the IAB in 2013 comprises representatives across the online advertising industry including Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), Association of Online Publishers (AOP), Incorporated Society for British Advertisers (ISBA), Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, Telegraph, FT, News UK, TripAdvisor, Bauer, Dennis, Quantcast, InSkin Media, Meetrics, Sizmek, Integral Ad Science, comScore, Nielsen, Alenty, agenda21 and the7stars

Last updated 15/04/2014

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