Viewability, Guaranteed

| Industry + Insights + Media

The industry is calling for standards around viewabilty—and we’re stepping up. Here’s Undertone’s take on the viewability landscape, where things stand today, and what we’re doing about it.

Viewability: Hot Air or Hot Issue?

The digital advertising community has a tendency to latch on to issues and analyze them to death through op-eds and conference platforms. Viewability is just such an issue. However, unlike some topics, which are afforded undue importance and column inches, viewability really matters. It’s also incredibly complex.

In an attempt to simplify matters, in 2011 the IAB, 4A’s, and ANA began an initiative called Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS). The goal was for measurement to not only be simplified, but also be more effectively tied to results than current metrics like impressions and clicks. The first guiding principle of 3MS is: “We need to move to a viewable impressions standard and count real exposures online.” The working definition of a viewable impression is: a display ad unit that is at least 50% in view for a minimum of one second. With the foresight of knowing that an independent and objective body would be necessary to finalize and drive adoption of these metrics and standards, 3MS enlisted the Media Rating Council (MRC) to provide ongoing governance.

Where Viewability Stands Today

Vendors offering viewability measurement today include DoubleVerify, comScore, Integral Ad Science (formerly AdSafe),, Moat, Nielsen, Vizu, and RealVu. Of these vendors, comScore and RealVu are currently MRC-accredited, that is to say the MRC has audited their measurement methodologies and these vendors are transparent about their process. Regardless of accreditation, though, there are a number of factors that may lead to inconsistent measurement between vendors. And therein lies the problem. 

Each vendor offering viewability measurement does so through a different methodology. Results from vendor to vendor can vary significantly and this is further confounded by the fact that, as of today, only Integral Ad Science has published an industry benchmark. This lack of consistency is the main reason why, in November 2012, the MRC issued an advisory stating that “it is premature to transact on viewability in advance of a fuller understanding” of a number of additional factors.

The Viewability Measurement Landscape (click to enlarge)

Undertone’s Position

At Undertone, we believe that the issue of viewability is simply too important for us to stand by and wait for clearly defined standards before taking action. Instead, we’ve taken a leadership position by establishing an objective, aggregated viewability benchmark against which our advertisers can measure the performance of their display campaigns. 

This proprietary benchmark has been developed through deep analysis of both publicly available viewability data, as well as data that we’ve sourced through relationships with DoubleVerify and Moat. We’ve aggregated these various data points and applied weighting to them to produce a single, clearly defined viewability rate. Weighting gives more emphasis to publisher viewability data, which our analysis found to be significantly higher than viewability rates from networks and exchanges. This aggregated benchmark helps significantly simplify the complexities of the viewability ecosystem for brand advertisers. 

The Undertone Viewable Impression Guarantee – Putting Accountability Into Viewability 

In addition to providing a clearly defined standard for viewability, Undertone has also put accountability into viewability with the launch of the Undertone Viewable Impression Guarantee. This guarantee ensures that all qualifying campaigns on Undertone will beat the aggregated industry benchmark for display ad viewability. 

For the launch of the Viewable Impression Guarantee, we’ve partnered with DoubleVerify and Moat to provide viewability measurement. Viewability data gathered from these providers will be compared against the aggregated benchmark, and Undertone will issue make good impression to any advertiser whose campaigns do not meet the benchmark.*

Undertone has always been focused on quality and accountability; we’re proud to now be able to offer our advertisers a way to navigate the complicated viewability landscape and have confidence that their display campaigns will always beat the industry benchmark for viewability. But the viewability discussion is far from over, and we’d love to hear your thoughts. Join the conversation around viewability at @AccessUndertone and #InView.

*Terms and conditions apply. Please see for details.

Post updated February 13, 2013.
Infographic updated February 21, 2013.


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