Measuring Progress on Measurement

March 20, 2019

To improve the quality and transparency of digital ad performance, Media Rating Council (MRC) develops measurement standards and offers audits and accreditations.

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Media Rating Council (MRC) is an industry association that sits between advertising vendors, sellers, and buyers and sets standards for how digital media is measured. Accredited organizations are given a double checkmark seal that denotes trust, disclosure, and transparency.

Created in 1963, MRC used to be known as the Broadcast Rating Council, but changed its name once it expanded from TV, broadcast, and radio measurement. MRC is self-regulated and offers its services to those who request them. These accreditations can be valuable for brands to know they are working with vetted vendors.

L’Oréal USA experienced what can happen when working with a vendor that has not been vetted. For a programmatic campaign for a Lancôme ad, the brand worked with a new DSP provider to extend its reach beyond its typical magazine audience. However, instead of reaching the intended 18- to 45-year-old female demographic, the campaign targeted men in Poland. When L’Oréal asked for its money back, the provider refused. This led the company to rethink how it was conducting its media transactions.

When drawing up contracts, negotiating with clear and consistent definitions to ensure measurements are being applied is crucial. This is where standards such as the ones created by MRC can be valuable, said Cassidy Sehgal, VP of digital and advertising counsel at L’Oréal USA. By putting protections in place, brands can ensure that their vendors are delivering precise advertising.

One example of an MRC metric is its viewability standard, which mandates that at least half of an advertisement’s pixels must be exposed for a minimum of one second for a display ad and two seconds for a video ad.

Other MRC standards include:

  • Brand safety. An ad verification standard helps balance the need for transparency while also ensuring data is kept secure.
  • Fraud. This standard analyzes competency in tackling bots and filtering for invalid traffic.
  • Location. This involves an audit of data and the levels of privacy and transparency in a company’s collection methods.

Industry Solutions

To help clients with measurement issues:

  • Include contract provisions. These should address viewability, fraud, measurement controls, brand safety, and the intersection of data and privacy.
  • Audit the processes. Even with great provisions, if they’re not measured or enforced, they can be somewhat pointless.
  • Work with accredited providers, and know when you’re not. If providers are accredited, then there’s trust and assurance. If they’re not accredited, then you might not get what you pay for.

Q&A with Keri Bruce, Partner at Reed Smith; George Ivie, CEO and Executive Director at Media Rating Council

Q. What do you expect platforms to do if the content itself is within their own policies, but it’s not something the advertiser is comfortable with?

A. George Ivie: The MRC standard has two levels. One is called the “floor,” for things such as murder or sexual acts — things that the majority of advertisers wouldn’t want to be associated with. That “floor” includes the types of content we’d ask platforms and publishers to not put ads adjacent to. Then we have a “brand preference” functionality to account for different sensitivities. You can customize this and say what kind of content you do and do not allow your ads to be near.

Keri Bruce: If you have brand standards that are above the platform’s standards, I think it’s important to ask yourself if it’s even possible to comply with them.

CLE Materials


"Measuring Progress on Measurement." Moderator: Keri Bruce, Partner at Reed Smith; George Ivie, CEO and Executive Director at Media Rating Council; Cassidy Sehgal, VP of Digital and Advertising Counsel at L'Oréal USA. ANA Advertising Law and Public Policy Conference, 3/20/19.

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