The Australian marketing and advertising world remains sharply divided over viewability and still cannot even agree on the basics of definition, despite global standards on the issue being clear.

With Google and Facebook pretty much writing their own rules, it might look a bit like the rounding errors fighting over the placement of the decimal point. But there are still hundreds of millions of dollars at stake across the wider ecosystem.

According to Ben Sharp, AdRoll VP and Managing Director Asia Pacific who is also the chair of the IAB’s local technology council, “There is no industry standard. There’s no industry consensus on what a viewable impression is. There’s no consensus on how you should measure and report on that.”

Sharp made the comments in a recent Which-50 podcast, which also featured James Diamond, the Managing Director of Integral Ad Science, Leah Daly, the founder of Cherry Media Group and Imran Masood, the Country Manager of Sizmek.

Different people and groups are still arguing over the meaning of a viewable impression, he said.

He also suggested viewability would be best solved the way the industry has tackled other metrics: with a third-party platform endorsed by an industry body as the official measurement .

“Then it’s up to players in the industry to decide whether they want to invest into that third-party verification tool. I think once you’ve got marketers and agencies saying, ‘I’m not going to buy from your platform unless I can track an industry-endorsed viewability platform’ that’ll shift the industry.”

For his part, Diamond said, “Do you not think that there’s a viewability standard that’s been agreed upon by the MRC (Media Ratings Council), that’s globally accepted? It’s accepted in the US, it’s accepted in the UK, it’s accepted throughout Europe. But here it seems there’s some hesitance to accept what the rest of the world has accepted — as if we’re on some sort of Internet segment of our own.”

“If we end up with a different standard to what the MRC has put forward, it makes the move to trading on viewability very difficult because ultimately, you will go to a publisher and say, ‘I want to buy viewable impressions,’  but there won’t be any clear indication as to what that means.”

Sizmek’s Masood offered an alternative prescription. “I think that’s where it comes to real business outcomes. Right now we’re measuring the industry and the pricing structure based on media metrics, not on brand metrics.”

Daly suggested there was still an issue with basic knowledge and understanding among marketers. “I think the brands and marketers need to be educated more about technology to even get into the realm of setting the rules.”

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