JICWEBS Updates Viewability Metrics Guidelines

Mobile ad Telegraph May 2015
A mobile ad in the wild – but will anyone see it?

The UK’s Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS) – the independent body that defines best practice and standards for online ad trading – is updating its recommended guidelines for products that aim to measure the viewability of online ads.

The Principles for Viewability Products guidelines, initially produced in January 2014 to help advertisers and their agencies assess which companies to use to measure online ad viewability, is being replaced by an updated version, reflecting how the viewability issue has changed over the last 18 months.

“It’s important the industry doesn’t stand still when it comes to tackling the big issues affecting online advertising,” said JICWEBS’ chairman Richard Foan. “This update builds on the good work implemented last year around ad viewability and is a further step in the right direction around bringing greater transparency and trust to digital advertising.”

The updated principles take into account learnings from the Media Ratings Council (MRC) an, the IAB in the US, as well as participants in the UK-focused cross-industry group that fed into JICWEBS. Key changes include greater transparency around methods to further reduce discrepancies between suppliers. It is anticipated JICWEBS will award the first seals to companies confirming their products meet these updated industry-agreed standards, in the second half of 2015.

“Buyers, sellers and those involved in the trading of digital display now have updated information and transparency about how viewability products measure if an ad has been seen,” said Steve Chester, director of data & industry programmes at IAB UK. “The companies whove agreed to further auditing by ABC to prove they have applied the updated JICWEBS principles will form part of the next update on this important area for digital ad trading.”

David Murphy writes:
Viewability, along with ad fraud, brand safety, and ad-blocking, is a burning topic right now and this move from JICWEBS is a welcome one.

If advertisers start to become concerned about how viewable their ads are, then a standard to give them the answer to that question is an obvious basic need. The problem is, there are so many companies measuring viewability in so many different ways that even when a publisher tries to do the right thing and get independent verification of how viewable an ad on its site is, the answer is little better than a stab in the dark.

As Mike Buckley, digital commercial director at the Telegraph, put it an event a few weeks ago: “We are expected to have high viewability scores, but I’m not sure, because I have a million and one ways of measuring it. There is no consensus on viewability. What a bloody mess it is…There are nine companies offering measurement, we are trialling four of them and we are seeing scores from 50 to 70 or 80 per cent. How on God’s earth and I supposed to trade on that? I can’t. The trade bodies need to sort it out and stop throwing stones at each other. They need to get together in a room and sort it out bloody quickly.”

This move from JICWEBS could be the start of the process that Buckley and others in the publishing world are crying out for.