A New Beginning For In-App Measurement

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Eric Picard, vice president of product management at Pandora.

Last week, the IAB Tech Lab released the Open Measurement (OM) Software Development Kit (SDK), a universal SDK to support standardized, multivendor measurement for in-app inventory across all measurement types, starting with viewability. This will radically improve nearly all aspects of the digital advertising ecosystem where mobile in-app is part of a buy.

Those working in digital advertising know third-party measurement of viewability and other quality metrics is critical. But the quick adoption of viewability as a key metric created some unintended market friction, complexity and barriers to scale, especially for mobile in-app environments.

Each vendor must create its own SDK and expects each app publisher to integrate it. An SDK is a piece of software that allows it to be incorporated into another piece of software, such as a mobile app, to achieve a goal or add functionality.

The problem with myriad SDKs pushed out by myriad vendors is that each SDK would need to be integrated by software developers, tested by quality assurance teams and consistently maintained. Many publishers outsource the development of their apps, and the overhead of integrating and maintaining SDKs is cost- and time-prohibitive. Also, many SDKs – in all spaces, not just measurement – create instabilities in apps, leading to crashes and bad customer experiences. Integrating multiple SDKs creates even more instability.

Advertisers and publishers faced no-win situations. Publishers did not want to integrate numerous measurement vendor SDKs. This choice, however, limits their ability to provide transparent reporting to advertisers, effectively shutting them from part of the market.

Advertisers, on the other hand, wanted to measure with their vendors of choice and were forced to either disqualify publishers that may have been effective in reaching their intended audiences or run media without measurement.

With the release of the OM SDK, these difficult choices are a thing of the past. Publishers can integrate a single measurement SDK that supports all participating vendors, starting with comScore, DoubleVerify, Integral Ad Science and Moat.

This SDK will collect a common set of data that can determine performance against existing and future standards and, because the data is driven by a single source, discrepancies among publishers, advertisers and vendors will be significantly reduced. And advertisers can now measure and transact with their preferred vendors and not be forced to disqualify desirable publishers from their media plans.

What’s great about this project is that we have learned from the early challenges that got us here. Measurement vendors, publishers, agencies and advertisers alike are committed to the OM SDK as a vehicle to support all measurement types moving forward, and not just viewability.

We will not go back to a world of numerous, disparate proprietary measurement SDKs that cause friction for the involved parties. This project’s mission is support of all measurement scenarios in this single universal SDK, along with future support on web and other environments.

The IAB Tech Lab and the OM Committee (Pandora is a member) represent a case of companies – many of which are competitors – coming together, assessing a problem and dropping their guards to solve it, with the understanding that a rising tide lifts all boats. It represents a model for future partnership across the ecosystem. The project also signifies a further evolution of the IAB Tech Lab’s capabilities and charter.

For those who don’t work on the technical side of our business, this may not seem so fundamental of a change, but for those of us involved here, the world now looks very different. And the future looks much brighter for technical efforts at the industry level.

[Author’s note: This column includes ideas from Brad Beal, senior product manager at Pandora.]

Follow Pandora (@pandorabrands) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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