Medialets Unveils MRC Accredited Buy-Side Mobile Measurement Tool

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MedialetsThe advertising industry has been wrestling with what exactly constitutes ad viewability.

Trade organizations like the the Media Rating Council (MRC), among others, are working to develop and refine guidelines on this issue. The MRC in particular has approved several viewability measurement solutions.

Only a handful of vendors have been approved so far, such as comScore vCE, DoubleVerify, Google Active View, iAd, RealVu and spider.io. While it is not a pure-play viewability solution, the ad-serving platform Medialets announced Wednesday that it was the first buy-side mobile ad server to get its attribution and measurement solution accredited by the MRC.

AdExchanger spoke with CEO Eric Litman about Medialet’s new solution, Servo.

AdExchanger: What is Medialet’s main line of business?

ERIC LITMAN: We’re an ad-serving platform for advertisers in mobile. We provide software that enables marketers and agencies to manage the process of configuring, planning, reporting and attributing their campaigns across the publishers they’re buying from on different mobile devices.

How did Servo come about?

About a year ago we won a deal to be Publicis Groupe’s preferred mobile ad server across their agencies. They told us, "We need you to help us scale our campaigns across mobile." And so we built a self-service revenue platform that eventually other clients asked for, too. But even more important was that we kept hearing how no one was able to measure mobile [campaigns] accurately.

And until recently, there was no one on the buy side that had MRC accreditation in mobile that allowed advertisers to say their numbers are correct. [Servo] helps marketers feel comfortable by knowing impressions are being delivered to devices.

How does your solution address viewability?

We adhere to the [Interactive Advertising Bureau’s] 3MS (Making Measurement Make Sense) standard which states that an impression should be counted only when a creative is delivered to a device, versus how it is on the desktop, where an impression is counted when a request is made from the server.

And so we’re almost there in solving viewability, but not quite. [Servo] doesn’t measure whether something is viewed, it measures whether something is on the device. What we can do is serve and track any creative format like banners, video, rich media and native formats across publishers, networks, DSPs and exchanges.

What were the requirements to get your platform accredited?

The MRC looked at everything at the frontend of the business, including running impressions and click tests against your servers to make sure the numbers matched up, all the way to the backend. They also look at how you develop your software, your disaster and recovery procedures, customer support processes and your engineering tickets. I’ve heard it’s typically a 12- to 18-month process to get accredited but we did a lot of prep work and got through in about nine months.

How does the technology work?

We deliver the creative to the device, which allows us to do a set of measurements against the device. In other words, we can track conversions from apps to the Web and back with cookieless, privacy-friendly methods.

We look at lots of different signals and whatever is available at the time, we’re delivering the creative and we shield those signals to make sure we have a privacy-safe and unique measurement of that device. We never touch device IDs, because a device ID can’t be changed. It’s too closely tied to a user.

We’ll use the advertising ID when it’s available. We also do statistical analysis and create a device profile. And we tie together a number of signals about the device between environments to come up with a very strong unique measurement.

Do you compete with cross-device recognition providers like AdTruth, Drawbridge and TapAd?

We do unique things around device identification, but I think the whole industry would be better off with a standard mechanism for device ID. I think the whole notion of using device id is a short-term competitive advantage. More important is we provide a set of technology for managing an entire campaign that’s independent from the media.

Which customers are using Servo so far?

We started with Publicis, so that includes Starcom Mediavest, Optimedia, Razorfish and other folks under Publicis. Merkle is another customer. Most of our customers are on Servo at this point but I’m not allowed to name all of them.

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