MRC’s First Stab at Viewability Standards Treats Mobile Ads the Same as Desktop

But no guidance on news feed promos

Almost a year after it started the process of measuring mobile viewability, the Media Rating Council has issued its first set of guidelines, which recommend that marketers treat smartphone and desktop ads the same.

Per the media watchdog, marketers will only be charged after 50 percent of a mobile ad is in view for one second. For video ads, it's two seconds. Those are the same standards that apply to desktop. The draft version of the guidelines are open for public discussion until April 30 when the MRC will take the feedback and create a final set of guidelines for advertisers. (Click here to read the full version of the guidelines.)

The decision to measure both types of ads the same way isn't entirely surprising. In October, MRC CEO and executive director George Ivie told Adweek, "We don't think it's going to be drastically different—if anything, [mobile] might be shorter" when asked about what marketers can expect in measuring the two differently. The guidelines also don't offer specific recommendations for news feed-style ads that run in apps like Facebook and Twitter, where a majority of mobile ads are viewed. 

"As of today, MRC has not concluded that different thresholds are necessary," said the trade organization in a statement, noting that it is still working to understand how content is consumed in news feeds.

The differences between desktop and mobile viewability may be few, but there are some.

Last year, Moat crunched data for Adweek across its clients' sites and found that 44 percent of mobile ads served are deemed viewable compared with 52 percent of desktop promos. And once someone is on a site, 76 percent of mobile readers choose to scroll down a website versus 63 percent of desktop users who do the same.

Whether the mobile guidelines ultimately shape up to be much different from desktop remains to be seen, but it will be intriguing to watch.