Advertising Industry Unites to Create New Standards in Streaming Viewability and Connected TV Measurement

GroupM & iSpot quantifies CTV impression overcounts for first time; Phase One study estimates streaming impressions that continue to play when TV is shut off

GroupM, WPP’s media investment group, has partnered with media companies across the advertising industry to create new standards in streaming viewability and CTV measurement. The initiative follows a joint study with TV ad measurement company iSpot that quantifies inflated CTV ad delivery counts and reveals that, on average, 8-10% of streaming impressions play when the TV is shut off, primarily through ancillary devices.

Companies including Disney, Fox/Tubi, LG Ads Solutions, NBCUniversal, Paramount, VIZIO and Warner Bros. Discovery have committed to working at an industry level with agencies, advertisers, and standards-setting bodies to create a streamlined measurement framework and set of best practices to ensure ads are only counted when delivered to screens that are on, with people in front of them.

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The effort follows GroupM’s focus last year in pushing for greater implementation of “Are You Still Watching” end cards to help address potential inflated audience counts. That initiative was widely adopted by publishers and platforms – but does not fully solve the issue.

“The explosion of streaming is rich with opportunity to deliver smarter ad experiences across a wide variety of possible channels. With any technological advancements, it’s our job to close the gaps so all avenues of ad delivery are verified,” said Kirk McDonald, Chief Executive Officer, GroupM North America. “As responsible investment stewards of our clients’ media spend, this verification illuminates both the issue and the opportunity for our industry. Regardless of the medium, if an ad is running, we want and should be able to attribute, measure, and report that an ad was served and seen.”

“This approach to verifying CTV allows us to quantify a complex problem in a comprehensive way, yet more importantly provides insights and a pathway for solving an important issue for the industry,” said
Sean Muller, CEO of iSpot.tv.

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STUDY FINDINGS: The Phase One study found that:

  • On average, 8-10% of overall streaming impressions were delivered when the TV was shut off.
  • 17% of impressions delivered only through CTV streaming devices such as dongles, gaming consoles, and sticks were delivered when the TV was shut off. Gaming consoles generally had lower rates of continuous play than dongles and sticks.
  • Native Smart TV Apps—which account for about 50% of all CTV viewing1—had virtually no incidence of overcounts across streaming ad delivery.
  • Depending on the configuration among the three components—TV make and model, streaming device and publisher app—the CTV impression overcount by publisher ranged from 2.5% to 15% across all CTV streaming activity.

“One of the most important findings was that there are dramatic variances in rates of continuous play, driven by the combination of TV set model, streaming device, and publisher app being used,” said Adam Gerber, Executive Director, Investment Strategy for GroupM U.S. “This is one of many measurement challenges facing the industry as consumption continues to fragment across device, time and location. These realities make a unified industry initiative to set standards and measurement solutions that much more urgent. It is part of a larger need to ensure that measurement accurately reflects the number of people who have the opportunity to see an ad.”

“Along with the growth of CTV and its tremendous opportunities comes new challenges – challenges in measurement, attribution, currency, and privacy-enhancing personalization. IAB and IAB Tech Lab have been at the forefront of the unique challenges of the CTV space across publishers, platforms, apps and OEMs,” said David Cohen, CEO of IAB. “Trust, transparency and accountability are foundational to the continued responsible growth of CTV. Timed for Q3 2022, IAB Tech Lab will release Open Measurement SDK for CTV, which will enable the industry to facilitate third-party viewability and verification measurement. It will also deliver a ‘set off’ signal and algorithmic assessment around the likelihood that a person is in the room viewing. We commend GroupM and others who look to quantify industry opportunities such as this one and look forward to continued education, best practice sharing, and technical standards to address these areas. Our Video Leadership Summit happening in just a few short weeks will tackle these issues head-on.”

iSpot, with input from GroupM and other industry participants, has developed a first-of-its-kind measurement offering that is built on top of its Unified Measurement product. The beta product, iSpot CTV Verification, measures continuous play incidence at the campaign level. GroupM will have exclusive access for a period of time as the product completes testing and development, at which point it will be available to the marketplace.

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