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Count on download impression methodology for DoubleClick Digital Marketing in 2017

DoubleClick Digital Marketing and DoubleClick for Publishers are shifting the method 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 records an impression when an ad server receives 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 provide adequate transition time for DoubleClick Campaign Manager users, we’re introducing the count on download methodology in phases:

  • February 6, 2017: A new Downloaded Impressions metric was made available in DCM. This metric is a preview of the new count on download calculation methodology that will be used in the existing Impressions metric in October 2017.
  • March 1, 2017: Active View calculations use Downloaded Impressions for measurable and eligible impressions, causing viewability rates to increase.
  • September 2017: Mobile in-app impressions will use an improved approach for counting downloaded impressions.
  • October 2017: Image assets will no longer serve though the DCM standard placement tag because this does not support downloaded impressions. 1x1 impression tracking pixels are not impacted.
  • October 2017: The calculations used for the Impressions metric will be updated to the count on download method. At this point, attribution and billing that use impressions will be 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 the Impressions metric will use in early Q4 2017.

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

There are a few things that are not changing at this time:

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

It’s expected that Downloaded Impressions will be lower than Impressions, but the exact difference will depend on the publisher and the serving environment.

How to prepare: We strongly recommend that you start using the new metric in your DCM reports since the counting methodology used for Downloaded Impressions will become the method for the regular Impressions metric in early Q4 2017. You can start to work with publishers and clients based on these numbers now ahead of the changes coming to Impressions in early Q4 2017.

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, you’ll see updates throughout the platform wherever this data appears, including Verification in DCM.

Exception for impressions served on the Google Display Network

Active View calculations will remain unchanged for all impressions served through an internal redirect placement tag on the Google Display Network. This means that:

  • Traffic from video inventory, interstitials, tracking ads, and all impressions served on desktop Chrome already uses the "count on download" methodology and will continue to do so. 
  • All other traffic currently uses the regular impression methodology. We are working on transitioning this to the count on download methodology soon. 
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 2017: Improved counting of mobile app impressions

To better accommodate the growing volume of pre-cached mobile app impressions, DoubleClick Digital Marketing will change the methodology for counting downloaded impressions. Going forward, a Downloaded Impression for in-app inventory will be counted once the ad is partially on screen. 

October 2017: Image assets excluding 1x1 pixels will not serve through standard placement tags

Starting in October 2017, image assets will 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 are phasing out the use of standard tags for images before October:

  • Now: A new Placement Tag Type dimension is 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, 2017: New standard tags cannot be generated for placements with dimensions larger than 1x1. Existing standard tags will still serve, but you’ll need to use a different placement tag type for all new tags.

  • October 2017: Standard tags will no longer serve image assets larger than 1x1.

How to prepare: 

  • Existing placements: Use the Placement Tag Type dimension to identify all of your placements that currently use standard tags. These placements will need to be re-trafficked with a new tag type if they are part of a campaign that ends after October 2017. We recommend creating a report that incudes the following dimensions and filters:
    • Placement Tag Type dimension
    • Site dimension
    • Placement Pixel Size filter. You should hit "Select all" in the filter options, then uncheck "1x1" to include all placements larger than 1x1. 
  • New placements: Start trafficking new image assets using a different placement tag type, such as the ins tag

October 2017: Impressions metric uses count on download methodology

In the final phase of the transition, the count on download methodology becomes the measurement of record for DoubleClick Digital Marketing in October 2017. At this time:

  • The Impressions metric will be computed using the count on download methodology that you can preview with the Downloaded Impressions metric.
  • Billing and attribution that's based on the Impressions metric will 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.

Does DoubleClick Digital Marketing already use the downloaded impression method?

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

The downloaded impression counting methodology is currently used for all video creatives, interstitials, tracking ads, and all impressions served on desktop Chrome.

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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