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Open Letter Calls for Cooperation on Online Ad Viewability Data

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An open letter sponsored by the MRC (Media Rating Council) and 3MS (a cross-industry consortium that includes the ANA (Association of National Advertisers), 4As (American Association of Advertising Agencies), and IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau)) calls for cooperation and transparency in gathering online ad viewability data.

In late 2014, the MRC and IAB led an industry effort to create a standard for ad viewability. The new metric helps advertisers know they're getting acceptable placement on web pages. The video ad viewability standard says that for an ad to be considered viewabile at least half of its pixels must be visible for two seconds.

Making the viewability standard workable requires getting solid information on where ads are displayed.

"As the MRC oversees the 'last mile' of viewability implementation, it needs more and better data from marketplace participants to understand and resolve the remaining causes of discrepancies among its accredited viewability measurement providers," the letter says.

The letter links to a memo from George Ivie, CEO of the MRC, explaining the kind of data that's required. It also lists contacts at each overseeing organization that members can turn to with questions.

While 4As is a sponsor of this letter, it's also a vocal critic of the viewability standards. In December it sent a letter to some of its members saying that it wouldn't endorse the viewability guidelines. The initial guidelines call for a 70 percent viewability threshold in 2015, which some insiders consider too low.

Streaming Media has also criticized the inaugural viewability standards as being inadequate. The MRC's answer is that viewability standards aren't intended to prove that an ad was seen, but that it has the potential to be seen.

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