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Count on download impression methodology for DoubleClick Digital Marketing in 2017

DoubleClick Digital Marketing and DoubleClick for Publishers have shifted the method used for calculating impressions from “served” to “count on download.” This count on download method follows changes the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Media Rating Council (MRC) made in April 2016 to count impressions after a user’s device indicates that creative download has begun. The previous served counting method recorded an impression when an ad server received a request for content.

This shift to follow the latest IAB and MRC impression counting guidelines impacts several aspects of the DoubleClick Digital Marketing platform. In order to allow for adequate transition time, we introduced the count on download methodology in phases. For users of DoubleClick Campaign Manager, there were four key dates:

  • February 6, 2017: A new Downloaded Impressions metric was made available in DCM. This metric is a preview of the count on download calculation methodology that is used in the existing Impressions method as of October 2017.
  • March 1, 2017: Active View calculations use downloaded impressions for measurable and eligible impressions, causing viewability rates to increase.
  • September 11, 2017: Mobile app impressions use an improved approach for counting downloaded impressions.
  • October 2, 2017: Image assets no longer serve through the DCM standard placement tag because this does not support downloaded impressions. 1x1 impression tracking pixels are not impacted.
  • October 2, 2017: The calculations used for the Impressions metric have been updated to the count on download method. As of this point, attribution and billing that uses impressions are based on downloaded impressions.

Using this newest methodology from the IAB and MRC:

  • Ensures that the data you get from DoubleClick follows the latest industry standards.
  • Saves you media budget because you’ll no longer be paying media or ad serving fees for impressions where content never made it to a user’s browser.
  • Reduces discrepancies with third-party viewability providers as the industry moves towards this common counting methodology.
  • Paves the way for further MRC accreditation for DoubleClick products.

The content below gives an overview of these changes for users of DCM. Bid Manager users can review this article in the Bid Manager Help Center.

February 6: New Downloaded Impressions metric available

On February 6 we introduced the first phase of the transition to downloaded impressions by adding a new metric to DCM. The new Downloaded Impressions metric uses the count on download methodology that that Impressions metric uses as of October 2017.

Data for the Downloaded Impressions metric is available from February 1, 2017.

There are a few things that did not change at this time:

  • There was no change to the Impressions metric.
  • All billing and attribution that's based on the Impressions metric continued to use the Impression metric.
  • There was no change to the metrics in Bid Manager.
  • The Downloaded Impressions metric is not available in Data Transfer.

March 1: Active View calculations use count on download methodology

Starting on March 1, Active View calculations that are based on impressions use downloaded impressions. Overall, the change to Active View calculations will likely result in an increase in viewability rates.

Since Active View data is used across DoubleClick Digital Marketing, there were updates throughout the platform wherever this data appears, including Verification in DCM. 

Why Active View calculations have changed

Before March 1, Active View used the served impression methodology to count impressions. This included a small number of impressions that reached the DoubleClick servers, but the ad content may not have reached the user’s browser. These impressions were served but not downloaded, so they aren't included as an impression under downloaded impressions.

The number of measurable and eligible impressions is now calculated based on downloaded impressions. This causes an increase in viewability rates because the total number of impressions that are counted as measurable and eligible for viewability has decreased.

Expected shift to impacted Active View metrics

Here you can see a detailed breakdown of what the expected change is to each impacted Active View metric as of March 1. Metrics not listed here have no expected impact.

Metric Expected Shift Reason
Eligible Impressions Lower The previous method for calculating this number included impressions that were served but not downloaded. Since these are no longer counted as an impression with downloaded impressions, the number will decrease.
Measurable Impressions Lower The previous method for calculating this number included impressions that were served but not downloaded. Since these are no longer counted as an impression with downloaded impressions, the number will decrease.
Not Viewable Impressions Lower The previous method for calculating this number included impressions that were served but not downloaded. Since these are no longer counted as an impression with downloaded impressions, the number will decrease.
% Measurable Impressions Lower This number is calculated as Measurable Impressions / Eligible Impressions. Since both of these numbers will decrease, the overall percentage will be lower.
% Viewable Impressions Higher This metric is calculated as Viewable Impressions / Measurable Impressions. Since Measurable Impressions will be lower, this overall percentage will be higher.
Impression Distribution (Not Measurable) Higher This metric is calculated as Not Measurable Impressions / Eligible Impressions. Since Eligible Impressions will be lower, this overall rate will be higher.
Impression Distribution (Not Viewable) Lower This metric is calculated as Not Viewable Impressions / Eligible Impressions. Since both of these numbers will decrease, the overall rate will be lower.
Impression Distribution (Viewable) Higher This metric is calculated as Viewable Impressions / Eligible Impressions. Since Eligible Impressions will be lower, this overall rate will be higher.

September 11: Improved counting of mobile app impressions

Beginning September 11, the counting methodology used in the Downloaded Impressions metric changed for mobile apps that support MRAID. An impression is counted once the ad is partially on screen.

With this updated counting methodology, the Downloaded Impressions metric no longer includes pre-cached impressions. This will result in lower impression totals for mobile apps.

Impressions served in apps that do not support MRAID continue to use the existing downloaded impression methodology.

There is no change to the Impression metric at this time.

Impression event tags also count an impression once an ad is partially on screen for mobile apps that support MRAID. If you use impression event tags, we recommend using the Downloaded Impressions metric in all of your reporting when comparing third-party and DoubleClick data.

More details about pre-caching and impression counting

Previously, a Downloaded Impression was counted when a user's device sent a ping to our ad server that creative content was requested and had started to download. Many apps, however, pre-load ad content before a user loads a page. This is known as pre-caching, which is a popular practice for mobile apps because it reduces latency. Since our servers are pinged when pre-caching occurs and not when a user is interacting with a page, impressions are over-counted with pre-caching.

October 2: Image assets excluding 1x1 pixels do not serve through standard placement tags

As of October 2, image assets do not serve through standard placement tags. This tag type does not support the count on download methodology for images. This applies only to “banner” creatives with dimensions larger than 1x1, such as common 300x250 and 728x90 sizes.

This timeline does not include 1x1 pixels used for impression tracking. 

To help ease this transition, we phased out the use of standard tags for images before October:

  • July 28: A new Placement Tag Type dimension was made available in DCM Reporting. This dimension gives the tag type that was used for every served impression. Data for this dimension is available as of July 20, 2017. 

  • August 22: New standard tags could no longer be generated for placements with dimensions larger than 1x1. Existing standard tags still served from August 22 - October 2.

  • October 2: Standard tags no longer serve image assets larger than 1x1. You'll need to traffic new image assets using a different placement tag type, such as the ins tag

October 2: Impressions metric uses count on download methodology

In the final phase of the transition, the count on download methodology became the measurement of record for DoubleClick Digital Marketing. This transition began on October 2 and ended on October 13.

  • The Impressions metric is computed using the count on download methodology that you could preview with the Downloaded Impressions metric. This includes the changes to mobile app impression counting described above. 
  • Billing and attribution that's based on the Impressions metric use the count on download methodology.

FAQs

Can you give more background on the IAB and MRC changes?

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has updated their impression measurement standards from served impressions to downloaded impressions for mobile impressions and is in the process of doing so for desktop impressions. Eventually these changes will be required of all ad technology platforms as the MRC and IAB work together to update the industry measurement standards, driven by industry wide consensus.

Can you explain the difference in counting methodologies in more detail?

Downloaded impression counting: An impression is not counted until the user’s client (browser or mobile device) sends back a ping that the ad has started to download. The MRC refers to this as “count on download.” See the MRC definition for more information.

Served counting: An impression is counted as soon as the ad server receives a request for content.

Did DoubleClick Digital Marketing already use the downloaded impression method before October 2017?

Yes. The Impressions metric previously used a combination of downloaded impression and served counting depending on the creative and type of ad tag.

Prior to October 2017, the downloaded impression counting methodology was used for all video creatives, interstitials, tracking ads, and all eligible impressions served on desktop Chrome. All traffic served by DoubleClick Campaign Manager with an internal redirect placement tag on the Google Display Network also used the download impression counting methodology.  

Are there any changes to 1x1 impression pixels served through standard placement tags?

1x1 impression pixels served through standard placement tags are compatible with downloaded impressions. These pixels will continue to serve through the October 2017 migration of image assets to different tag types.

We strongly recommend that if you use standard tags to serve tracking pixels that you use tracking ads.

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