IAB nears standard metric for video ad views

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) is pencilling a Q4 release for a set of guidelines that will state the length of a video ad a user needs to have seen before it can qualify as an impression as the trade body looks to make buying inventory across the web comparable with more traditional media.

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IAB plans Q4 release for video viewability metric guidelines.

The new baseline video standard will follow April’s release of the IAB’s  “Viewable Impressions Guidelines”, which state that 50 per cent of the pixels in a desktop display banner should be visible for one second to count as an impression.

Just as with those guidelines, it is likely the IAB will follow the lead of its counterpart in the US when it comes to setting the standard for video impressions. IAB US has said that the baseline metric for a video view is 50 per cent of the ad’s pixels viewed for 2 seconds.

It is likely the Audit Bureau of Circulations will accredit vendors signing up to the guidelines, as it has done on the display banner guidelines, according to Steve Chester, the IAB’s director of data and industry programmes.

However, he admitted coming to an agreement on video standards will be more difficult than for desktop display ads as there are many different types of video format – such as pre-roll, interactive and overlays – and corresponding budget weightings attached to those by marketers. Audio is also a factor that needs to be taken into consideration.

Chester adds: “We need to find the ideal bridge between making sure everyone can agree, whilst making sure it’s not too complicated. The whole point is to create clarity about whether ads have been seen and make that comparable to traditional media. Then if we need to go into the nuances later, we can consider that, but this is about looking at top level guidelines.”

Digital video advertising spend in the UK is set to increase by 107 per cent year on year to £673m in 2014, highlighting marketers’ growing appetite for the format.

It is hoped that by taking extra time to galvanise opinion, the IAB will come up with a universal viewability metric agreed upon by all sides of the industry that will bring the buying of video ads more in line with other media – such as gross rating points on TV – and boost spend even further in the years to come.

That was the ambition also set out for the display Viewable Impressions, although some marketers have argued the 50 per cent baseline was not a robust enough metric.

The IAB had also originally hoped that the first set of advertising vendors signing up to the display Viewable Impressions would be accredited by the summer, but it appears the process is taking longer than first envisaged. Chester estimates the first five or six vendors – which are likely to correlate with those already accredited in the US – will be announced in the fourth quarter.

He adds: “Our big focus is on reducing discrepancies between agencies and publishers [on what qualifies as an impression].  If those discrepancies are big then obviously it becomes very difficult for people to trade against.

“Once we have [reduced those discrepancies] we will look at whether we need to revise [the display viewability guidelines]. We are constantly evaluating them in order to facilitate trade.

“We’ve taken on board what some of the detractors have said, but it’s not as straightforward as it appears and there’s lots of work going on behind the scenes.”