73 Pages of Love
“73 pages of love” is how George Ivie, CEO and Executive Director of the Media Rating Council (MRC) describes the newly released Cross-Media Audience Measurement Standards. Two years in the making, it is the most comprehensive set of standards ever released by the MRC and arguably the most commercially impactful change to measurement since the viewable ad impression measurement guidelines were released in June 2014.
As consumers continue to move effortlessly from screen to screen and we continue to think about video fluidity, we must begin to think about measurement in an apple to apples way. The guidelines are designed to put a stake in the ground for a consistent way of counting video impressions. It is important to make the distinction between “counting” and “value” which often is interchanged. The guidelines are not designed to determine the relative value of impressions across video channels, but rather provide a consistent set of definitions for key elements of cross-media measurement to:
- Create a consistent framework to facilitate and advance cross-media comparability
- Recommend minimum disclosures which shall be provided to measurement data users
- Provide a clear statement of recommended research operating practices, quality and describe minimum requirements as well as best practices
- Encourage experimentation and advances to improve cross-media research quality
There are a few particularly notable elements of the standard worth mentioning. The first is the introduction of duration weighting. The idea is rooted in the belief that in order to add impressions across video screens, the length of view should be considered. In the original measurement spec, the standard of measurement was a :30 unit, but in the final standard it is a function of the length of the ad (i.e. 3 seconds of a 6 second ad should be counted differently than 3 seconds of a :15 or of a :30). This is a huge change to how we measure impressions and GRPs today and as such, the MRC has indicated that the industry has until 2021 to implement duration weighting.
Other interesting elements include the discussion around audio (and the presence of audio on in determining a viewable impression) as well as the pixel requirement for cross-media comparisons. The standard raises the pixel requirement for viewability to 100% for 2 continuous seconds when combining impressions for cross-media campaigns (standalone digital campaigns can continue to use the 50% pixel requirement). It is worth noting that this will be more challenging for some environments (i.e. newsfeed) than others.
My recommendation is to curl up with the new standard, break open a bottle of your favorite wine or cocktail and get reading. These are critically important to the future of our business and provide an important foundation upon which we will build measurement and optimization solutions. A successful implementation will set the stage for improved video measurement over the next few years and will give us the best intelligence to maximize our advertising investments.