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comScore Offers Free Digital Ad Viewability Measurement

With transparency and fraud issues slowing down growth in digital advertising, comScore is offering free viewability measurement to clients.

With viewability taken off the table, marketers can focus on metrics that are more important to mounting effective advertising campaigns, according to comScore CEO Gian Fulgoni.

Clients have been questioning their digital advertising investments because of worries about viewability, which include ads that appear in a tiny portion of the screen and for only a fraction of their full running time. There are also issues with fraud involving getting charged for ads that are seen by bots, rather than by people.

“We want to eliminate viewability as something that one has to worry about,” said Fulgoni. “We hope that this helps restore some trust in digital, which has been buffeted by issues of trust and transparency.”

comScore has found that as much as 55% of digital advertising is not viewable. “It’s a bigger deal on video than it is for display ads. And the reason appears to be that the price for video ads is much higher than the price for display ads, and so that attracts more fraudsters,” Fulgoni said.

Programmatic activity involving open exchanges has also opened the door to increased fraud, he says.

comScore has traditionally been the leader in measuring digital advertising. Since acquiring Rentrak, it has been trying to move into the television business, dominated by Nielsen, and win the race to provide cross-platform measurement.

For digital advertising to be worthwhile “you’ve got to be in view and you’ve got to eliminate the fraud,” Fulgoni said. “That’s what an advertiser should be paying for, and that’s what should be expected. It’s what’s expected and delivered in television.”

comScore's effort received some support across the industry.

"In order to create a total video marketplace where buyers can plan across platforms to achieve advertising goals, viewability is key to leveling the playing field between digital and TV. This new viewability solution will help expand access and use of viewability measures, allowing the industry to turn its focus back to making sure that ads have an impact," said Lyle Schwartz, president of investment, North America, GroupM.

“Giving the market broad access to viewability metrics is a critical step in moving digital advertising forward," said Blaise D’Sylva, VP of media at Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. "We applaud comScore for taking this step to bring greater trust and transparency to the industry, and working to level the playing field between digital and TV advertising.” 

comScore’s free tool sets its viewability standard at the Media Rating Council definition, which is a half a pix being viewable for at least a second. That’s a pretty low bar, and Fulgoni says comScore's full suite of measurement enables clients to set higher standards if they want.

Last year, comScore earned accreditation by the Media Rating Council for its Sophisticated Invalid Traffic detection capabilities across both desktop and mobile ads.

comScore Viewability becomes available globally this summer as a free, self-service offering, delivered through a fully redesigned user interface.

The free offer should put a positive spotlight on comScore, which is emerging from accounting difficulties that have distracted the company for about a year.

“This will help the industry increase trust and get users to focus on more appropriate metrics, and will ultimately have a benefit for us also,” Fulgoni said.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.