Defining Viewable Impressions

December 1, 2014

3MS makes inroads into measuring in the digital space

Earlier this year the Media Rating Council (MRC), the independent body responsible for setting industry standards and which helps to implement the Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) initiative, announced its Viewable Impression Measurement Guidelines, which define specific parameters for how viewable impressions should be measured.

The guidelines state that 50 percent of pixels must be in the viewable portion of an Internet browser for a minimum of one continuous second to qualify as a viewable display impression. The shift from a “served” impression to a viewable impression standard is quickly being adopted by many marketers and should provide them with the confidence that they can accurately measure their investment in the digital space.

MRC Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director George W. Ivie says that next on the 3MS agenda is coming up with a digital gross rating point (GRP), so that marketers can begin to measure how many unique people in a given demographic saw an ad in digital media, in much the same way marketers have been able to measure specific audiences in television, radio, and print.

“We’re looking to have the bulk of the digital GRP standard work done by the end of the first quarter of 2015,” Ivie says, adding that it will be followed by several other projects executed by the end of 2015, including developing principles and standards for reining in invalid digital traffic and coming up with a viewable impression standard for mobile.

Coming up with 3MS standards that make everyone in the industry happy will not be easy. “It’s a tremendous challenge because they all have different perspectives — and some of those different perspectives are naturally opposing, in that sellers and buyers in any transaction have different motivations,” Ivie says. “Luckily, all of them can agree on the need for quality improvement.”

Ivie suggests 3MS will look to social media eventually and tackle the challenge of attribution, to determine how to measure and assign a value to the stream of impressions that consumers see before they finally respond with an action.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure there is quality in all the metrics that are out there,” he says, adding, “If we can create a common impression, then I think that’s a key part of the battle.”


"Defining Viewable Impressions." ANA Magazine Spotlight. December 2014.

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