ABC moves to ease viewability headaches through expansion of its certification programme as the Guardian trades on 100% viewable impressions

ABC has expanded the amount of companies it approves for measuring ad viewability from four to six as advertisers seek to minimise the amount of discrepancies between the results from different ad tech vendors, and media owners make increasing assurances they offer value for money.

The viewability of ads bought using automated technology is increasingly a concern for advertisers

The auditing outfit has today (23 November) issued its second industry report comparing the digital ad viewability methodologies of six companies - comScore, DMA Institute, DoubleVerify, Integral Ad Science, Meetrics and Moat - after pan-industry trade body JICWEBS updated its measurement principles in July.

Standardisation of measurement techniques

The updated list sees the DMA Institute and Meetrics added to the ABC-approved list, with the additional four having previously been certified as meeting JICWEBS' requirements, and the expanded list meaning media owners and buyers should theoretically be able to measure like-for-like figures.

ABC claims the report incorporates newly developed checks and disclosures to demonstrate how each product performs in different behaviour scenarios.

Earlier in the year JICWEBS representatives told The Drum that fragmentation in the measurement techniques used by different ad tech companies had proven problematic, with as many as 17 companies touting their MRC accreditation as fit for purpose.

However, intricacies in how the MRC is mandated means that it was limited in its ability to withold accreditation meaning JICWEBS, which represents members of ISBA, the IAB, IPA and AOP, had to conduct further testing in order to recommend outfits to its joint membership.

Although, with only six companies touting both MRC and JICWEBS approval (compared to 11 that are accredited by just the former)

Speaking about the latest update, Jerry Wright, ABC's chief executive, said: “The industry benefits from an array of products which claim to measure viewability. This can lead to confusion due to the variation in what each product offers. In order to make an informed purchase decision, brands need to know if these products will do what they say they will."

Bob Wootton, director of media and advertising at ISBA, added: "Viewability will remain a key issue for brands if they are to continue to increase their spending on online advertising. As long as advertising depends on reaching human viewers, success pivots on the ability of an audience to see ads, but there is still confusion over the measurement of this area.

ABC’s Viewability Report offers transparency and clarity in what is a very technically complex area and we welcome any advance in understanding in what viewability measurement products are actually delivering.”

Meanwhile, GroupM's digital chief Rob Norman spoke about how such developments were crucial to engendering trust in the digital media trading sector. He added: "Dealing with discrepancies in the numbers is necessary now, and media buyers and our partners need to have a clear understanding of the differences in the capabilities of these viewability products."

Video ad viewability is set to become one of the issues facing the digital advertising industry in 2016, with advertisers asking for evermore stringent checks when it comes to paying for digital inventory.

Guardian rolls out Response+ Assured

The news comes the same week as Guardian News & Media confirmed its 'Response+ Assured' programme, which it promises will guarantee advertisers 100 per cent viewability, is now live in the UK by way of a tie-up with Integral Ad Science.

Under the terms of the scheme, Guardian advertisers booking inventory through the system will only be charged for ads once they have been verified as viewable by Integral ad Science.

Guardian Response+ Assured forms a key part of the publisher's attempts to allay advertisers ' fears over traffic quality, with the service offered on a managed basis in the UK (plans are afoot to roll it out further).

This involved reducing the amount of advertising inventory on offer for every page, but improving the positioning of them, along with "sticking adverts on-screen for a set period of time" to improve delivery of user views, as well as "intelligent ads insertion" based on the length of a page, and how far a user has scrolled down it.

ISBA's Bob Wootton will be speaking at The Drum's 2015 end-of-year event Programmatic Punch on 8 December where he will discuss issues around transparency in automated media buying.