IAB held a call to discuss its new State of Viewability Transaction 2015 position paper. In addition to reading out the principles outlined in the paper, Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO of IAB, and Sherrill Mane, SVP of Research, Analytics and Measurement at IAB answered questions from the call participants.
Below are the topics addressed along with key insights from the discussion.
Scope of the principles:
- IAB principles do not specify who should be responsible for covering the cost of viewability vendor services.
- The issue of fraudulent traffic is outside the scope of the viewability discussion, although these issues do overlap at times. TAG (Trustworthy Accountability Group) was created specifically to address the issues of fraud.
- The principles apply to desktop (display and video) transactions and do not cover mobile.
- IAB is not making any recommendations on how viewability should affect pricing.
- IAB generally limits the principles to measurable impressions – some formats, e.g. sponsorships, cannot be measured and are thus outside the scope.
How IAB arrived at the 70% viewability threshold for measured impressions:
As the position paper specified, the core aspiration of the 3MS initiative was to have 100% of traded impressions be deemed viewable by the MRC. IAB consulted a group with the IAB board (primarily composed of sellers), who have recommended that a 70% viewability rate was achievable at this point in time. IAB recognizes that 70% will be difficult for some publishers, but they think this is achievable. At the same time if a publisher thinks that they can do better than 70%, IAB encourages them to do so.
Dealing with unmeasurable impressions:
- IAB has cautioned against extrapolating any metrics from the measurable impressions to unmeasurable impressions.
- As per the example to principle 3 in the published position paper, unmeasured impressions should be billed for as fully viewable impressions (though not contributing towards the 70% viewability threshold for the measured impressions).
Next steps IAB will be undertaking to pave the road to 100% viewability:
- IAB has assembled an additional group of leaders to monitor the impact of viewability on publishers and course-correct if necessary (as the position paper specified, IAB are looking to revisit the principles at least twice a year).
- The industry is not yet at a level of sophistication where there can be a standard test suite that is run across all vendors to establish measurement consistency. IAB is working with the MRC and is encouraging its members to share data with the MRC to help them address the variability in measurement rates between vendors.
Impact on agencies:
- IAB thinks that the 100% viewability guarantees demanded by some of the agencies are unreasonable and will only hurt efforts to collaborate and fixed measurement throughout the system.
- Asked how IAB would recommend agencies to communicate to clients the endorsement of paying for 30% of inventory that was not viewable, Rothenberg advised agencies to always reference the MRC “Viewability Implementation Considerations”, issued on 16 October 2014, which state that 100% viewability is an unreasonable expectation at this point. Rothenberg advised agencies to educate clients on the current technological limitations of this space and the need to absorb the discrepancies in measurement.