Google Is Rolling Out New Technology for Publishers to Count Mobile Viewability

As a result of its accreditation being suspended

After getting suspended from the Media Rating Council—which has become digital advertising's de facto measurement watchdog—last month, Google is slowly starting to roll out a new way for publishers that use its DoubleClick for Publishers to measure mobile viewability.

Here is why Google's move was necessary: in April, the MRC issued its first measurement standards for mobile web viewability that treats mobile and desktop viewability the same. Similar to desktop viewability, marketers are charged when 50 percent of a mobile display ad is in view for one second and two seconds for a video ad.

While the standard is the same for how advertisers are charged, the technical methodology that publishers use to measure mobile viewability changed. During an audit by the MRC last month, Google's methodology for measuring mobile viewability did not meet the new requirement, causing the MRC to suspend Google's accreditation.

Starting this quarter, publishers will begin seeing a new "downloaded impression" metric in reports in addition to the "served" metric that they can use to adjust pricing and their businesses, according to a spokeswoman.

To be clear, Google's desktop viewability through DoubleClick and its AdWords business is not affected by the mobile change, and both areas remain accredited by the MRC.

Mobile viewability is suspended for Google because, before April, publishers counted a view as when an ad server sent code to a website to load an advertisement, per the MRC and the Interactive Advertising Bureau's rules. Now, counting an impression requires a bit of extra time—publishers have to wait for the ad server to get a request and then wait until the creative starts downloading on a page before it can be counted.

In explaining the suspension, David Gunzerath, svp and associate director at the MRC said it was, "because of a non-compliance issue related to updated requirements of relevant Impression Measurement Guidelines. We expect that we will be able to reinstate accreditation once these non-compliance issues have been sufficiently addressed."

It may seem like a small, wonky change, but it speaks to the challenges that ad-tech companies and publishers have in keeping up with advertisers who are increasingly demanding stricter guidelines for their digital ads to be measured against. While marketers ask for more, the change in mobile methodology will likely take time for publishers to adjust and prepare for.

As a result, Google and other ad-tech companies have spent the past year building and installing new systems and hiring new talent to accommodate for the change.