Why Should Publishers Care About MRC Ad Viewability?

Updated on: January 9, 2024
Advertisers expect their ads to be seen by real people; MRC viewability standards provide a way to measure this.

Media Rating Council (MRC) sets standards and conducts audits to make digital advertising reliable and effective. As it is an independent organization formulated for the betterment of the industry, the players in the adtech ecosystem confer and agree with the MRC viewability standards. To give you an overview, MRC viewability is a standard introduced to determine whether an ad impression is viewable. 

Ad viewability is not a new concept in the ad tech industry. But when both publishers and advertisers began to realize the impact of viewability on their bottom lines, it became apparent to feel the need for standard guidelines to deem an impression as viewable. 

So, as you guessed, MRC defined certain thresholds to help ad-tech vendors consider an ad impression viewable. But, before discussing the MRC viewability guidelines, let’s briefly look at the basic concepts in ad viewability:

Fraudulent or Invalid Impressions: Fraudulent impressions are illegitimate ad impressions typically generated with the help of botnets, artificially manipulated page loads, etc. The idea is to siphon the ad dollars from the buyers with invalid traffic (IVT).

Viewable Ad Impressions: An ad impression will be considered viewable when the ad is in the viewable space of a web browser’s window. If the ad is displayed outside a browser’s viewport, then the ad impression doesn’t have the chance to be seen by a user.

So, What Is MRC Ad Viewability?

MRC Display Ad Viewability

According to MRC, a display ad will be considered “viewable” if 50% of the ad creative is visible for at least one second in the viewable space of the browser.

In addition to the above standard MRC viewability definition, an impression can be counted as viewable if the following requirements are met:

  • A strong interaction between the user and the ad can be considered viewable even if it doesn’t meet the time or pixel requirement. Here, “strong interaction” means a legitimate click should happen from the user’s end. Moving the mouse cursor over the ad wouldn’t be considered an impression.
  • Usually, viewability vendors calculate the number of viewable impressions based on the ad itself (by adding a JS tag to the code). However, a few vendors calculate the impressions by measuring the ad container (i.e., IFRAME) in which an ad appears. In such a scenario, ad-container-based measurement is also acceptable, provided that the ad appears in the container in its intended format. 
  • For large display ads sized at 242,000 pixels (equivalent to 970×250 large display ads) or greater, 30% of the pixels in the ad are visible on the viewport of the web page for more than a second, then it can be counted as a viewable impression.
  • In the case of rich media display ads (which initially appear as one small-size ad and then expand based on user action or time), viewability is measured based on the pixel count of a smaller format of the ad or the expanded format of the ad for the duration when the respective ad format is in place. For the former case (when the ad is viewable before the expansion), the ad view time will be

Ad view time in total = Ad view time in-pre expansion state + Ad view time in the expanded state

           If the ad is declared viewable for the expanded state, then the ad view time should only count when the ad is viewable in the expanded state.

  • If the pages of a website are pre-fetched or pre-rendered, the ads delivered to such pages should not be considered viewable until the ads appear in the viewable section of the browser and follow the conditions specified above.

MRC Video Ad Viewability

To count as a video ad impression, at least 50% of the ad’s pixels must be visible in the viewable space of the browser for a minimum of two consecutive seconds. This two-second rule does not only apply to the first two seconds of the video ad. Any unduplicated ad content that lasts for two seconds between videos will also count as an ad impression.

Other Considerations for Video Ad Viewability:

Video ad viewability guidelines are similar to the display ad impressions standards. However, there are a few conditions that meet the MRC video ad viewability criteria:

  • For click-to-play video ads, if a video ad is initiated by a click and at least 50% of the ad is in view for the first 200 milliseconds, then the impression would be counted as a viewable video ad impression.
  • For auto-play video ads, it becomes harder for measurement partners to detect if the auto-play ad was viewable since its execution. Therefore, it is up to the third party to measure and report appropriately.

What Are the Metrics Used in Defining MRC Ad Viewability?

To help the measurement partners, publishers, and advertisers in measuring the impressions count, MRC has defined three metrics:

  • Measured Rate – Measured Rate is represented in percentage and can be calculated as follows:

Measured Rate=Viewabile Impressions + Non-viewable ImpressionsTotal Served Impressions

  • Viewable Rate – Similar to the Measured Rate, Viewable Rate is the percentage value that can be calculated as follows:

Viewable Rate = Viewable ImpressionsViewable Impressions + Non-viewable Impressions

  • Impression Distribution – Impression distribution represents the percentage of viewable, non-viewable, and undetermined ad impressions.

These performance metrics help organizations to measure ad viewability rates and detect how many impressions are viewable and non-viewable. Although MRC has defined a few metrics to identify and measure valid impressions, it’s difficult for measurement vendors to accurately measure 100% ad viewability.

Now that you know the MRC Viewability Standards, it is time to understand how to improve your ad viewability (and ad revenue).

Wrapping Up

Viewability is among the major challenges publishers, and advertisers encounter while selling and buying advertisements. However, the Media Rating Council has resolved various issues related to the ambiguity in ad viewability by giving a standard definition for the viewability metric.

Also, many publishers today offer 100% ad viewability to provide better exposure to their advertisers; it is suggested to maintain at least 70% ad viewability to ensure better CPMs. Still, have questions about ad viewability standards? Leave a comment below, and we’ll help you find the answer.


Why Should Publishers Care About MRC Viewability Standards?

Publishers should care about MRC viewability standards because these standards significantly impact the effectiveness and reliability of digital advertising. 

What Are MRC Viewability Standards for Publishers? 

According to MRC, a display ad will be considered “viewable” if 50% of the ad creative is visible for at least one second in the viewable space of the browser.

Who Is MRC?

The MRC (Media Rating Council) is an independent organization that sets and audits standards for digital advertising viewability to ensure that advertisers get what they pay for. 

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