NEW YORK: Google has filed new patents which indicate changes in the way it plans to rank content and to measure ad viewability.

One patent sets out to assign scores to content based on how long people spend watching it, Search Engine Journal reported, noting that ranking by "watch time" is already a known factor on YouTube but could also refer to how long someone stays on a page found in search results, regardless of the content it contains.

"In general, the system boosts the score for a search result if users historically tend to watch the resource for longer periods of time, and may demote the score if users historically tend to watch the resource for shorter periods of time," the patent summary stated.

At the same time, the internet giant has updated an earlier patent application describing a method of establishing whether a specific point on a web page can be seen in a browser window, MediaPost reported, a feature of particular interest to advertisers whose ads may be served but not actually viewed.

Google's solution rests on an analysis of behavioural characteristics: "Browsers will typically redraw elements of a web page at a higher rate if they are currently in view through the browser window, and this characteristic can therefore be used to determine whether the test feature, and thus the region, is in view," the patent said.

"The present invention finds particular utility where the region contains an advertisement, as it allows an advertiser to discover whether the advertisement has been seen by users."

The viewability issue was addressed at the recent ARF Audience Measurement 2015 conference, where Serge Matta, comScore's president/ceo, admitted that it had not been as simple as the industry had first thought to create technology to ensure ads could be seen.

And while he welcomed the work the Media Rating Council had done in accrediting media vendors, he added that "the problem is that there are different standards of accreditation and not everybody is the same".

"We need to agree on the standards and use quality metrics," he stated.

Data sourced from Search Engine Journal, MediaPost; additional content by Warc staff