Media Rating Council (MRC)
The Media Rating Council (MRC) is an American independent organization that aims to improve the quality of audience measurement by rating services. It ensures that the information provided by a vendor is reliable and valid, thereby reducing the disparity to the maximum extent. Furthermore, it prevents any biased tweaks in the service/technology.
Any vendor can get accreditation from the MRC by completing the multiple rounds of audits. Once the audits are done, MRC Certificate will be given to the service.
MRC certification helps a vendor/audience measurement provider to win the confidence of marketers and to gain their trust.
Note: If a company is MRC accredited, it does not indicate that the company’s measurement is 100 percent accurate/reliable, it just means that the organization is maintaining a minimum standard of quality by adopting certain criteria set by the Media Rating Council (MRC).
A Seal of Approval
With the rise of masqueraders and fraudsters, it has become imperative for technology vendors to get accredited by the council. In a way, it has even grown into a competitive advantage. For instance, Innvoid sees an uplift in closed deals because of the MRC Certificate.
Innvoid submits its values every year for MRC approval, says Tal Chalozin, Innovid’s co-founder and CTO. They have been questioned about MRC approval by all the brands and agencies they work with and hence, the company decided to get accreditation from the MRC.
“Right now, we actually win deals off of someone else because we are MRC-accredited”
– Tal Chalozin, Co-founder, Innvoid.
Not just Innvoid, marketers from different companies highlighted the importance of MRC accreditation by saying that it is the most important currency in the digital ad space.
Is it Important?
MRC Certification isn’t for closing more deals, it’s an added advantage. Actually, it serves a higher purpose of saving your brand.
Facebook was misleading the brands by providing imprecise information (video ads, ad impressions, etc.) and it wrongly charged all the advertisers back in 2016. No mess up is minor when the advertisers are forced to pay from their wallets. Hence, Facebook tried to repair the damage by refunding the advertisers with the full amount and decided to undergo the MRC Certification process.
Twitter and Youtube are also undergoing audits with the MRC. All with the aim of winning the trust of advertisers and to show themselves as ‘legitimate and effective’.
Activities of MRC
Minimum Standards – Establishment of minimum standards for the (technology or audience measurement providers’) rating operations in the industry.
Accreditation – Media Rating Council accredits the rating services on the basis of information provided by such services.
Audits – Pre-audit (to confirm the company has developed a certain level of features to pass the audit) and independent audit (to actually verify all the information/features that the company has provided during the pre-audit). The audits are usually done by external accounting firms like Ernst & Young and MRC financially supports the process.
The content in the audit is confidential but includes various dimensions of the business including,
- Conformity with the Interactive Advertising Bureau standards.
- Internal procedures for welcoming new clients (client onboarding), addressing their questions and an issue tracking system that manages all issues.
- Data extraction that helps clients to gain insights about their campaigns.
- Platform availability.
Who are the Members of MRC?
Any media organization that uses media research or depends on it is eligible to become a member of MRC and each member company is entitled to a seat on the MRC Board of Directors. Currently, there are 145 board members (approximately) in total representing TV and Radio Broadcasting, Cable, Print, Internet and Advertising Agency organizations as well as Advertisers and Trade Associations.
Benefits of MRC membership
- Members decide whether an audited Rating Service receives accreditation or not (through voting).
- Members have access to confidential information about the quality of the rating service.
- Members have a say into changes in the Minimum Standards for Media Rating Research and thereby they set the industry standards.
- Members are exposed to other members through MRC meeting hence they come across new ideas and thoughts which are beneficial to both industry and the associated companies.
How does MRC Benefit the Publishers?
Media Rating Council (MRC) and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) generally sets the industry standards to ensure the sustainability of digital advertising.
They’ve developed the guidelines for the ‘Conduct of Ad Verification’ in February 2012, which provides a common set of acceptable methods for conducting digital ad verification services. These guidelines address a wide range of important topics such as Geo-Targeting, Site Context, Ad Placement, Competitive Separation, and Fraud Detection.
Similarly, Social Media Measurement devised by MRC helped to establish guidelines that measure social media activity, audience and ad exposure on Social Media Platforms and also helped to define the key terms for social media.
Most importantly, they’ve defined ‘ad viewability’.
They audit the technologies you use to run/verify campaigns and push the industry towards a better future. In a word, they are preventing ‘chaos’ that could eventually decimate the digital advertising.
Social Media Platforms and publishers might be using various techniques and technologies to segregate, measure, and report audience data. However, using the MRC accredited service improves the trust factor of your websites and advertisers prefer to work with more closely (think, PMPs, direct sponsorships, etc.)
There’s no need for most of the publishers to think about one as most well-known technologies and platforms are accredited or accepted without accreditation. That being said, if you’re utilizing a vendor to support or report on the performance of campaigns, it’s better to ask them for an MRC Certificate.