The trade body says in its new statement that it’s "unreasonable" to achieve 100 percent viewability due to the limitations of current technology. So what measurement challenges do advertisers have?
In its newly released State of Viewability Transaction 2015 statement, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) says that the achievement of 100 percent viewability is "unreasonable" for the time being. Instead, the trade body suggests that the current viewability measurement can vary as widely as 30 percent to 40 percent.
The IAB statement labels 2015 a "year of transition," when the whole digital marketing ecosystem, including advertising agencies, publishers, marketers, and tech vendors, should work together to build trust and implement the ad viewability measurement program that was initiated by the Media Rating Council (MRC) and other key industry organizations in March of this year.
It reiterates the MRC's October statement that it's "unreasonable for advertisers, agencies, and publishers implementing viewable impressions as measurement currency to expect to observe viewable rates of 100 [percent] in analyses of their campaigns."
"It's time to set the record straight about what is technically and commercially feasible, in order to get ourselves on an effective road to 100 percent viewability and greater accountability for digital media," Randall Rothenberg, president and chief executive (CEO) of the IAB, said in a separate statement. "The MRC said it best - 100 percent is currently unreasonable. Why? Because, different ad units, browsers, ad placements, vendors, and measurement methodologies yield wildly different viewability numbers."
Brian Mandelbaum, CEO of Clearstream, an online platform that aims to help advertisers increase online video ad viewability, thinks there are two main measurement challenges preventing advertisers from achieving 100 percent viewability.
The first issue is that the way the ad-tech ecosystem is built doesn't allow advertisers to see an ad impression that runs on a page.
And the second challenge, Mandelbaum says, is that advertisers depend on publishers to deliver the viewability, where publishers actually don't have full control. "It's true that they purchase ads through programmatic or directly from publishers. But it's the user, the person who is actually watching the ad, who decides whether or not to keep that impression in view," he explains.
For example, a consumer may not necessarily watch a 30-second pre-roll video ad the whole time. Instead, the consumer may be multitasking while watching the video ad.
"So in that case, the publisher does a really great job in getting that impression on your eyeball. However, you are the consumer who can take the ad out of your view," Mandelbaum says.
In order to achieve the highest possible levels of viewability, the IAB suggests in its statement that in 2015, measured impressions should be held to a 70 percent viewability threshold. And determination of threshold achievement is based on total campaign impressions, rather than on each line item. Therefore, if some line items do not achieve the 70 percent threshold, other elements in the campaign can make up for it.
But Mandelbaum thinks the IAB should have put more weight on video ads in its statement.
"I want to point out that this is a really general and broad statement on viewability from the IAB. It really doesn't think about the specific nature of video," he notes. "To ask someone to watch 100 percent of a video ad, is it achievable? Sure, it is. Is it difficult? Absolutely. Because you need to rely on that person's full attention for 30 seconds."
"So I think the IAB needs to make sure the marketplace understands that 100 percent viewability is more attainable in an online display ad landscape than a video landscape, because of the amount of time and attention you need to get that full impression," Mandelbaum adds.