Last week, the IAB posted the second of their five “IAB Believes…” blog pieces, focusing on viewability of digital ads. Their focus in this post is the inconsistency of digital ad measurement definitions when it comes to the visibility and viewability of ads on the page. They are looking to address this with the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWEBS).

The IAB have a good track record of pulling the industry together, but I’m wondering whether this step-wise approach, starting with display then moving to video and then mobile, is the strongest way forward. While this is probably the easiest way to do things, I think it could be the wrong way round. Isn’t mobile or even video currently more of a priority than display? These are the growth areas. However, maybe the underlying need in moving first to viewable impressions on display is to address some of the fraudulent impression issues that have been much talked about recently. This aim is great, as it makes the whole industry more accountable, leaving critics to have to come up with something else to moan about and bringing back some confidence that digital ad spend is not being ripped off.

Interestingly, the IAB follows all this with a small caveat: “This is about the ad being in-view so it has an opportunity to be seen. Its effectiveness, as ever, is down to the creativity, inventiveness and rigor of your teams. That, indeed, is the beauty of our industry.” Most people would certainly agree with that – and it’s here that the marketing insights providers (like us, at GfK!) come into their own.

However, it seems like there is a disconnect between the viewability measurement (where the focus is on technology providers validating impressions) and this effectiveness evaluation. Surely these two things should be combined and aligned? The regulation of the Market Research industry means we can be truly independent here – assuming that you trust the notional separation of insights from media that is claimed to exist in some groups of commonly owned companies. Isn’t this then something that should be tendered out and endorsed in the same way that website visits are?

The common challenge here is on the supply side. You can standardize measurement, but we need to encourage the development of competitive advantage (and innovation) by suppliers. Integrating measurement and insights is one such innovation, so maybe it would be good to engage GfK (and other research suppliers are also available ;-) ) to make sure this perspective is taken into account? Just a thought!

For more information please contact Arno Hummerston at, or follow him on Twiiter @ArnoHum.