‘Coverage reigns’: Dr Karen Nelson-Field calls for review of MRC standard

Changes to the Media Rating Council’s viewable advertising impression measurement guidelines could help brand owners, according to a newly released study by academic and researcher Dr Karen Nelson-Field.

Speaking at ReThinkTV’s second forum, Nelson-Field called for a re-establishment of the baseline of video viewability, following new research which found levels of coverage have a significant impact on attention and sales.

She said while changes would “significantly reduce” the amount of ads Facebook and YouTube can commercialise, including coverage as part of the metric was vital and could benefit brand owners.

Currently the MRC viewability standard requires 50% of a video to be visible for at least two continuous seconds to be counted as a chargeable view. It takes into account pixels and length of time an ad appears.

“Coverage really matters a lot to attention and sales,” Nelson-Field said.

“We already know that attention and sales are highly related, so the patterns are quite striking. So we see coverage absolutely without a doubt, multiple sets of data, does impact cut through.”

Nelson-Field’s research suggests coverage accounts for 70% of the variation in sales. However, coverage is not included in the viewability standard.

If coverage is so vital, could the viewability standard be under fostering performance?” she said.

“Given we had the data already, we easily were able to consider the relationship between pixels, time, and sales.

“It’s important to say the standard does work. It’s brought unaccountable industry into some sort of account,” she admitted.

But while it makes the industry accountable, Nelson-Field’s research found pixels and “being seen”, matter more than the time an ad is viewed.

Nelson-Field’s graph shows how greater coverage affects attention and sales

“100% pixels renders two times the impact over 50% regardless of time,” she said.

“As pixels approach the limit of possibility, coverage becomes more vital.

“100% pixels playing on a full screen has a much greater impact than 100% pixels on a smaller proportion of the screen.”

Nelson-Field later pointed out the MRC would get “crashed” from both sides should the MRC standard increase or decrease.

“There’s a call from brand owners to be pushing the standard up. But there’s equally from media owners to push the standard down. And the reason why is their ability to commercialise,” she said.

She noted 56% of Facebook ads hit the current standard, and around 78% of ads hit the mark on YouTube.

While Nelson-Field said the “sweet-spot”was up to companies to decide, she suggested advancing the criteria to acknowledge the interests of brand owners was important.

ThinkTV CEO, Kim Portrate, later welcomed the call to review the standard.

“The science is in: there is value in the impressions which meet the current minimum standard but this study demonstrates there is room to improve the impact and effectiveness of video advertising,” Portrate said.

“It’s also an opportunity to reconsider how we choose video advertising platforms and what kind of return they deliver on the metrics that matter most – attention and sales impact– because these are the two that drive growth.

“ThinkTV is working through these findings with our shareholders to ensure we are providing robust and relevant metrics for TV – broadcast, IP delivered and catch up – in all its forms, across all devices – to ensure you are getting the best out of today’s TV experience.

“Because, in the end, it is what advertisers deserve when they invest with us.”


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