According to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), 97% of the 154 members that participated in its survey indicated that they believe larger media sellers should allow third parties to measure their inventory.

Furthermore, 65% stated that the Media Rating Council (MRC) should provide accreditation for media sellers’ internally-derived metrics.

The consequences for media sellers could be significant – if advertisers are to be believed.

Well over half (61%) of the ANA’s survey respondents claimed that they would shift their budgets away from media sellers which don’t offer third-party measurement.

But just how serious are advertisers? Less than half (36%) of marketers stated that they were very familiar with the need for third-party measurement of viewability.

Most respondents (44%) were only “somewhat” familiar with the issue and a fifth of advertisers were “not at all” familiar, which begs the question: if most advertisers aren’t in a good position to rationalize the need for third-party measurement of viewability, just how meaningful is the fact that almost all of them want it?

Are viewability standards a joke?

Viewability is no doubt a legitimate subject, but it’s hardly the most pressing subject facing advertisers.

Many assumptions around viewability aren’t correct, and viewability standards leave a lot to be desired. As the ANA explains:

The current industry standard for a viewable display ad impression is a minimum of 50% of pixels in view for at least one second, and for a viewable digital video ad impression, a minimum of 50% of pixels must be in view for at least two continuous seconds.

While advertisers shouldn’t pay for ads that are not viewable, the bar on viewability is so low that it’s laughable.

So why is so much being made about viewability when the standard for viewability leaves so much to be desired?

One might argue that many advertisers would prefer to fuss about their ads being partially in view for a second or two than face the most inconvenient of truths: consumers by and large just aren’t interested in their ads. 

Ad blockers are becoming ubiquitous and the ads consumers don’t block using technology are blocked by many consumers mentally (banner ad blindness). 

So should advertisers give up on viewability? Not exactly. Many of the concerns associated with viewability topic, such as transparency and accuracy, are legitimate.

But media sellers can’t guarantee that an ad will be viewed and advertisers should ultimately be basing their investment decisions on whether or not the media they’re buying is moving the needle or not.