Getting the Measure of Viewable Impressions in NZ

By Alisa Higgins, General Manager, IABNZ

In March 2011, IAB US, the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies launched Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS). The industry initiative is focused on five areas: defining impressions; establishing audience currency; creating a standard classification of ad units; defining ad performance metrics, and establishing brand attitudinal measures.

On April 1st, 2014 IAB US launched a standard for viewable display impressions - any instance where at least 50 percent of the ad is visible for at least one second - a move away from the current served impressions standard.

It sounds simple but applying this definition in a consistent and accurate manner across platforms and devices can be difficult. There are 11 MRC accredited vendors offering viewability however the results from a recent study illustrate variances among the suppliers. As a result, the MRC have issued guidance on what needs to be done to diminish variance and have given vendors a 6 week window to align their practices with the new specifications.

So there is still work to be done not only on the vendor side but publishers will need to make adjustments. In New Zealand testing is yet to begin, however many of the larger publishers are working with their parent companies in Australia. What this means for NZ is that we will continue to monitor advisories issued from IAB US, MRC and IAB Australia who issued this earlier in the month.

Some key points I would like to leave you with:

  • This metric is not the universal remedy for digital measurement. A viewable impression gives the consumer the “opportunity to see” – it doesn’t guarantee they have actually seen the ad
  • The majority of publishers in NZ already price their inventory relative to the ad’s position – there is a good reason large ad formats sitting above the fold cost more than the ad at the bottom of the page so viewability is not new
  • The debate about viewability isn’t just limited to digital environments. For years, so-called traditional media including television and radio, have argued about the veracity of audience measurement systems. Some pundits says three out of four newspaper ads are not seen; one in three radio ads are not heard; and around 75 per cent of TV ads are dodged by viewers, who increasingly time-shift.

No medium is perfect, but all strive to improve measurement accuracy.

The IABNZ Measurement Council will work with the industry and other IAB’s and make recommendations around viewable impressions.


Thanks to Ana Lewell, mi9 and the IABNZ Measurement Council.

Further reading:

Making a Good Impression; what the lift on the Viewable Impression Advisory means for Australia
Viewability is No Guarantee of Being Seen
Viewability Has Arrived: What You Need To Know To See Through This Sea Change


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