And members of the video ad community is indeed appending the MRC’s take on viewability with their own metrics. This makes the MRC’s definition less of a standard and more of a suggestion. As a result, video viewability is still very much a free-for-all.
“The IAB and MRC definition (of viewability) is the same,” said Katie Seitz, VP of strategy and operations for Tremor Video. “But different companies are adding in additional factors (like ‘non-human’ traffic or ‘active-tabbing’) that can drastically change numbers and that’s where the variance happens.”
Because of the highly immersive nature of video ad formats, there are many metrics that are potentially useful to brands to determine what’s the optimal in-view time for a particular campaign, like whether the user started the video themselves or if it was autoplay, said David Hahn, SVP of product management for Integral Ad Science.
“Determining ‘is it viewable or not’ is a very minimum standard and I think will be used largely for billing and reconsideration purchases,” he added.
The MRC advisory lift is not a “blanket solution,” agreed Alexis Berger, VP of sales and marketing at Kargo, a mobile brand advertising platform. “Brands still need to be diligent about where they spend their money and hold partners accountable for delivering a clear picture of what’s being bought and how it’s being measured.”
“We know we will never make video profitable on a click-only basis, so no matter what KPI we’re using, we’re going to use this viewability data as a proxy to act against,” one marketer said. “Being able to hone in on the wasted impressions and effectively eliminate them from the buy in a traditionally more expensive medium is worth a lot to us.”
Vendors are aware that video viewability is a concern. TubeMogul, for instance, founded an OpenVideoView consortium and partners with about 25 other vendors.
In the meantime, the MRC’s list of accredited companies both for digital display and video, while extensive, is still a work in progress. At the time of writing, Videology, Telemetry and Moat were the first to be accredited for viewable video impressions with about half a dozen more to be added June 30.
“We took some time to understand – among the accredited vendors we had audited – why there were differences (and one was) the granularity of the measurement,” Gunzerath said. For instance, were vendors measuring the ad or the container on the page in which the ad appeared?
“We spelled this out when we lifted the display advisory in March,” Gunzerath added. “Video was kind of following the same path, but we had all these learnings from display that could be applied to video. We hadn’t finalized the threshold and the standard for what constituted a viewable video impression really until January of this year, so when we lifted the advisory for display in March, we decided … to give vendors a little more time to account for these final thresholds.”