IAB UK green lights trading on viewable impressions for display advertising

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has given the green light to companies on the use of industry-backed viewability metrics as a display ad trading currency.

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The industry body had previously advised companies not to trade using viewability metrics robust, standards had been confirmed between the UK and the US to ensure consistency across both markets.

After rigorous tests over the pond the IAB has established the final standards determining what constitutes an 'in-view' ad, which is that 50 per cent of pixels must be in the viewable portion of an internet browser for a minimum of one second. For rising Stars / large-canvas ad formats - the equivalent of a 970 x 250 pixel display ad - the new guidelines state that 30 per cent of pixels must be in view for one second.

Standards for video, mobile and tablet are yet been determined, but are expected to roll out later this year.

The issue of viewability – which refers to whether an ad is actually in-view to readers on publishers websites – has become a hot topic over the last year as advertisers have increasingly questioned the accountability of their media investment.

Advertisers’ demand for more clarity and transparency when it comes to determining whether their ads are well positioned enough to have a good chance of being seen by the readers, has been steadily rising.

IAB’s director of data and industry programmes, Steve Chester said the news signals a “new era” in delivery measurement for the ad 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.”

However, all industry bodies involved in the process, have flagged that discrepancies between different measurement providers are “inevitable”, and work is underway to tackle this issue.

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.”

Association of Online Publishers (AOP) managing director, Tim Cain agreed adding: “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.”

Meanwhile British advertisers trade body 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.”

Last year the IAB formed a viewable Impressions cross-industry working group, comprising representatives across the online ad industry including the AOP, ISBA, 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.

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