NEW YORK/LONDON: Viewability standards are in the spotlight again as an industry body has demanded more action from YouTube and Facebook, GroupM announced an “evolution” of its own standards, and new academic research is set to throw some light on the value of current industry standards.

“The requirement that an ad must be 100% in view remains foundational to GroupM’s standards for all ad formats,” the media agency said as it revealed some changes to its approach to how long a display ad has to be on screen and, in the case of video ads, whether the sound is on or not.

These relate to the social and mobile newsfeed environments where users can sometimes scroll too quickly to see ads. GroupM now requires a one second duration for the time a display ad passes through the viewable screen.

For a video ad in social, in-feed or outstream, users are not now required to initiate the play or to have sound on, which the Wall Street Journal described as a “softer standard” that would be welcomed by Facebook and other digital platforms where video ads often play automatically and run with the sound off.

Such videos will continue to have to be 50% completed to count as being viewed although that metric is under review.

Current industry standards are examined in Admap’s upcoming September issue, in which Professor Karen Nelson-Field of The University of Adelaide and Dr Erica Riebe, Principal Researcher, Centre for Amplified Intelligence, will publish the results of their study into the short-term advertising strength of ads on YouTube and Facebook to ascertain whether ads viewed with 50% of pixels in view for two seconds are seen, memorable, and have any behavioural influence.

The two internet giants came under more pressure last week from Paul Bainsfair, Director General of the IPA, the UK trade body, who argued that YouTube and Facebook had a responsibility to ensure the best possible standards for advertising on their platforms and called on them to use the UK as a test bed for delivering online and mobile video ad supply that is optimised for 100% viewability and which can be independently verified.

In another development, Facebook has said that it will allow advertisers to run video ads as in-stream placements in publisher videos, as opposed to stand-alone ads in newsfeeds.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal, IPA, Admap; additional content by WARC staff