IAB Proposes Guidelines for Measuring Broadband Video

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has set forth proposed guidelines for measuring broadband video impressions, at a time when video content and advertising is proliferating online.

The guidelines seek to govern only what the IAB calls a “Broadband Video Commercial,” which can include any type of in-stream ad. These can appear in streaming videos, animations, games and music video content. In-banner units aren’t included in the proposal.

“The only thing that’s unusual about the video guidelines is that we haven’t normally dealt with categories that are that small, but given the importance of this to the future, its importance to the members, we decided to work on it now,” Greg Stuart, the IAB’s CEO, told ClickZ.

The most important, yet basic, provision is that an impression should only be counted when the actual advertisement begins appearing on the user’s screen. Measuring the request for the stream or the initiation of the buffer isn’t sufficient, the guidelines say. The impression could be measured by the delivery of a beacon, or tracking asset, so long as it was delivered at the same time as the advertising content.

“We want confirmation that the ad is appearing,'” Stuart said, adding that the proposed standard is similar to its standard for measuring an impression. “It’s using the same technique in that we measure as late in the process as possible.”

Notable also is what the guidelines don’t mandate, but suggest should be done. They suggest that pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll ads should be tracked and reported separately, but acknowledge that some technology set-ups may not allow for that. Bit-rates should also be reported separately, if possible, the document says.

The IAB also laid out items for future measurement consideration, including “next-generation advertising units” and “next-generation video platforms.”

“It’s a part of a larger effort,” said Stuart. “We’ll eventually probably extend these guidelines into mobile, iTV and other elements.”

The organization said it plans to look into time-based measurement and consider quantifying when someone views half of an ad or watches the complete ad to its conclusion. The group is also considering whether the window size — whether someone watches a video full-screen, for example — should be measured. Whether the player has sound turned on or off is another factor the IAB is considering for measurement.

The organization is accepting public comments on the rules on its Web site for the next 30 days. It plans to release final guidelines May 15.

The IAB has already run the guidelines past the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAAs), whose head, Michael Donahue, praised the organization for taking a leadership role. The Digital Video Innovation, Media Research, Interactive Marketing and New Media committees of the AAAAs have all reviewed the guidelines.

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