In order for an impression to qualify, at least 50 per cent of an ad units pixels must be in the viewable portion of an internet browser for a minimum of one continuous second. For larger units – of 242,500 pixels or more, equivalent to 970×250 banner – only 30 per cent of pixels must be in view for this one second period.
The standards refer specifically to desktop display advertising. Equivalent standards for mobile and tablet are due to be determined later in 2014 and beyond.
“Today’s announcement heralds a new era in delivery measurement for the advertising industry,” said Steve Chester, IAB director of data and industry programmes. “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.”
Commenting on the news, Andrew Goode, COO at ad verification company Project Sunblock, says he doesnt believe these guidelines go far enough.
“Categorising an ad as viewable if it’s shown for one second, is not enough to tackle the problem,” says Goode. “Viewability has been a hot topic for the ad industry for a while now, but there’s yet to be any real improvement, with nearly 50 per cent of digital ads still being viewed for less than one second. The reality is that even if the IAB can strong-arm the industry into full scale adoption of their standard, there’s no way of policing it and even if there was, it says nothing about the effectiveness of that one second.”