Group M launches new global viewability standards

WPP’s Group M is rolling out a global set of viewability standards in a bid to improve the integrity of digital media investment, with the move gaining support from some of the media agency’s biggest global clients.

Group M’s John Montgomery said the company is seeking global consistency

The move comes just days after the World Federation of Advertisers released research revealing ad fraud and transparency issues had prompted a major crackdown by brands on their agencies and digital platform partners.

Viewability has been one of the major issues the industry has been grappling with over the past two years as advertisers continue to question at what point they should be paying for an ad that has appeared on a screen.

The latest announcement follows on from Group M’s original efforts with Unilever which began in 2014 to define viewability standards.

Along with Unilever, clients which have come on board to support Group M include Campbell’s Soup, Shell, Subway and Volvo.

“We support Group M’s ongoing assessment in this space to reflect changes in consumer behaviour and available ad formats, and to ensure full accountability and verification,” Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer Keith Weed said.

Announcing the new drive, Group M noted that when it began the project in 2014, there was marginal compliance with the most basic of standards.

“The standards required that 100% of the pixels in a display ad must be in view (for any amount of time); and for video, that 50% of the video must be played at the user’s initiation, with the sound on, while 100% in view,” the agency said.

“At the time, only 18% of video impressions met Group M’s standard; by mid-2016, 55% of impressions met the standard.”

In the latest viewability standards Group M said in display 100% of pixels must be visible for at least one second.

On pre-roll and mid-roll it demands 100% of pixels visible, user-initiated with sound on, at least 50% completed.

For social, in-feed and out-stream video it requires 100% of pixels visible, autoplayed or user-initiated, with or without sound, with at least 50% completed.

Metrics will also have to be measured objectively by an MRC-accredited third party.

The moves have also gained the approval of a number of technology and media partners including Hulu, Spotify, Teads, comScore, DoubleVerify, Integral Ad Science and Moat.

John Montgomery, Group M’s executive vice president, brand safety, said it was time to shape a better experience for advertisers in the digital realm.

“By working with clients and progressive media and technology partners, we can help shape the digital marketplace for the better, as we have seen in the US,” Montogomery said.

“It was always our goal to operate around a consistent standard globally and following many months of partner dialogue, now is the right time for us move forward with these enhanced standards that consider the evolution in social and mobile platforms, as well as user behaviours.”


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