Until Vendors Measure Viewability the Exact Same Way, Discrepancies Will Exist

Quinn Sanders, viewability expert and Videology’s Director of Product Management, was recently interviewed by Marketing Magazine about the Media Rating Council’s viewability guidelines.

Below you can find the full Q+A with Quinn.

A number of publishers have reported that there have been discrepancies between viewability assessments made by MRC-accredited providers — some have alleged that the gap between measurements can be as wide as 30 percentage points. Has Videology seen any evidence of such a discrepancy?

We have seen discrepancies on measured rates and viewable rates between accredited vendors. Yes, they can get as large as 30%, but that’s not very common. Certain page structures/formats are not “optimized” for viewability measurement and we tend to see higher discrepancies on those pages. 

What might be causing discrepancies between providers?

Any discrepancy between any two vendors is not easily explained/identified. There aren’t clear guidelines from the IAB/MRC on how to measure every possible scenario for viewability. Examples of reasons that might cause discrepancy:

  • Each browser is different in how they allow for measurement of viewability (Chrome, Firefox, IE, Safari, etc.)
  • Multi-screen environments (external monitor into your PC)
  • Measurement within iFrame – there are at least four different ways to do it, some better than others
  • Some vendors extrapolate expected viewability out to un-measureable impressions (the MRC allows this in some scenarios)

A key issue is that the MRC doesn’t certify that one vendor measures viewability using the same methods as all other accredited vendors – they certify that we can measure what we say we can measure. 

Do you think that by issuing more detailed guidance on viewability methodology, the MRC can reduce or eliminate discrepancies?

Yes, that will certainly help, but I’m not sure discrepancies will completely be eliminated until the MRC requires that all accredited vendors measure viewability in the same exact way. For example, if one accredited vendor is using the Flash-based Throttle Indicator, shouldn’t all accredited vendors also use it? This is a difficult issue though because many vendors look at their measurement methodology as their intellectual property and as a differentiator from their competitors.

Do the draft reconciliation guidelines that the MRC distributed provide the guidance necessary to accomplish this goal?

They help, but will not get us all the way there. 

Has Videology made any comment to the MRC, or does it plan to make a comment in response to the guidelines? What elements did you support or criticize?

We have commented on a few items and will continue to work with the MRC to enhance their guidelines. One key item that we encourage the MRC to clarify (and they are working to do so) is the calculation of measured rates. On some campaigns, some impressions are expressly not intended for measurement, but as of now, even those must be included in the calculation of measured rate.

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