Industry Standards for measuring video impressions/viewability

Google has submitted following elements to the current Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation, asking:

  • YouTube Reserve video impression and video viewability measurement as reported in the YouTube Reserve Video Viewability Report adheres to the industry standards for video impression and viewability measurement
  • The processes supporting these technologies are accurate. This applies to Google’s measurement technology which is used across all device types: desktop, mobile, and tablet, in both browser and mobile apps environments.

You'll find a summary below of the Video measurement process employed by YouTube Reserve. 

What is Google seeking accreditation for?

Google is seeking the accreditation stating that Google's Video impression and viewability measurement technology adheres to the industry standards for counting video advertising impressions and measuring viewability rates.

What is included in the audit process?

Only the  “YouTube Reserve Video Viewability Report” is submitted for MRC Video Metrics accreditation. The definitions of these metrics are presented in the Glossary section of the Video Viewability report.

The audit includes all measurement, aggregation and processing related to YouTube Reserve Video Viewability report, which includesSkippable in-stream, Non-Skippable in-stream and Bumper video advertising sold via direct reservation.

What is not included in the audit process?

Google's non-video impression-based advertising solutions, such as Google Marketing Platform, and systems which measure clicks for non-commercial purposes (such as Google search) are outside of the scope of this audit. Other systems outside the scope of this audit include related support and management systems such as Google Analytics. In addition, the following items are not part of accreditation:

  • Other client reports (Unique Reach,Brand Lift, Placement,etc) for YouTube Reservation
  • Targeting, Brand Safety
  • OTT and Other device types
  • Click metrics
  • YouTube TV, Sponsorships, YouTube Kids, Programmatic, and Mastheads.

Video impression and viewability measurement methodology

Google uses an internal booking tool to plan and reserve YouTube campaigns on behalf of advertisers who opt for the direct reservation service.

Google’s proprietary Interactive Media Ads Software Development Kit (IMA SDK) is integrated directly into the YouTube video player, the YouTube mobile app, or video partner sites and apps to facilitate communication between the video players and the ad server for video measurement.. The IMA SDK is a Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) (versions 2.0, 3.0 or 4.0) with a compliant tag implementation used to measure both linear and non-linear video ad content to serve and track digital video ads. The IMA SDK also supports Video Player Ad-Serving Interface (VPAID) (version 2.0) that allows the video ad and video player to communicate with each other, as well as Video Multiple Ad Playlist (VMAP) that allows multiple ads to be played within the video ad content.

All measured YouTube video ads included in the video viewability report are delivered in-stream. For video ad impressions, measurement utilizes the count-on-begin-to-render methodology. The Google Ads IMA SDK solutions are consistent with the Video Impression Guidelines requirements regarding post-buffering initiation of the measurement event.   YouTube Reserve Video viewability report uses a combination of user-agent and mobile app SDK data from internal and external sources to classify device types. YouTube Reserve Video viewability report does not rely on any third party to perform classification.

In some instances, continuous play is a factor, such as when Autoplay is active or the user is viewing a video in a playlist. When this is the case, certain rules are followed. When using Wi-Fi, continuous play will stop automatically after four hours. When using a mobile network, continuous play will stop if you have been inactive for 30 minutes. Please refer to https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/6327615 for the latest and most accurate details on this feature.

For video viewability, Google Ads utilizes the Active View description of methodology to measure viewability as reported within the YouTube Reserve reporting platform.YouTube Reserve Video Viewability report counts a viewable video impression when at least 50% of the video ad creative appears within the viewable area of a user’s browser/app for two continuous seconds.

Filtration methodology

Google tries to identify and filter both general and sophisticated invalid traffic continuously through data-based identifiers, activities and patterns. This identification and filtration is done across video impressions, and includes non-human activity and suspected fraud. However, because user identification and intent cannot always be known or discerned by the publisher, advertiser or their respective agents, it is unlikely that all invalid traffic can be identified and excluded from the reported results proactively. In order to protect invalid traffic filtration processes from becoming compromised or reverse-engineered, no details of specific filtration procedures, beyond those detailed here, will be disclosed, other than to auditors as part of the audit process.
Both specific identification (including obeying robot instruction files, filtration lists, and publisher test activity) and activity-based filtration methods (including analyzing multiple sequential activities, outlier activity, interaction attributes, and other suspicious activity) are utilized in filtration.
In addition, the following parameters apply to the filtration methodology:
  • Third-party filtration is not used by Google.
  • Sources used for identification of non-human activity: Google uses the IAB/ABCe International Spiders & Robots List as well additional filters based on past robotic activities. The IAB Robots List exclude file is used.
  • Activity based filtration processes: Activity-based identification involves conducting certain types of pattern analyses, looking for activity behavior that is likely to identify non-human traffic. Google's Ad Traffic Quality team has systems in place to determine any suspicious activities and does such activity based filtering appropriately.
  • All filtration is performed 'after-the-fact' and passively. That is, the user (browser, robot, etc.) is provided with their request without indication their traffic has been flagged, or will otherwise be filtered and removed as Google does not want to provide any indication to the user agent that their activity has triggered any of Google's filtering mechanisms.
  • Processes have been implemented to remove self-announced pre-fetch activity.
  • When inconsistencies or mistakes are detected, processes exist to correct this data and provide refunds to advertisers. These refunds are reflected in the billing summaries. The corruption of log files is extremely rare, but in cases where this may occur, processes exist to recover them.
  • Processes have been implemented to remove activity from Google internal IP addresses.
  • Filtration rules and thresholds are monitored continuously. They can be changed manually, and are updated automatically on a regular basis.

Business partner qualification

YouTube platform level ad policies applies to all parties. Learn more about the ad policies for Advertisers

Google filters for invalid traffic on an ongoing basis, and will review any business partners that receive high amounts of invalid traffic. Partners who continually receive high amounts of invalid traffic may have their account suspended or closed.

Video data reporting

Different types of YouTube reservation reports (such as Unique Reach, Brand Lift,etc) are made available to the advertisers by their Google sales point of contact.

For the purposes of MRC accreditation, only the metrics listed in  video viewability report are in scope. Other reporting of video impression and viewability metrics across the other available YouTube Reservation reports are excluded from accreditation audit.

The metrics in the  YouTube Reserve video viewability report are reported Total Net of SIVT across Desktop, Mobile Web, and Mobile In-App environments.  The GIVT and SIVT numbers are not reported separately to prevent this data from being reverse engineered. Approximately 67.2% of total invalid video impressions traffic is estimated to be general invalid traffic.

The following video ad formats are measured and reported in the YouTube Reserve video viewability report. All other ad formats not described below are excluded from the YouTube Reserve video viewability report, including ads served into the YouTube Kids mobile application.
  • Skippable in-stream ads:  In a skippable video ad, viewers are given the choice to skip the ad after the initial 5 seconds. After the view of a skippable ad, it will increment the YouTube view count at the 30 seconds mark or when the ad has been watched completely (creatives must be at least 12 seconds long to increment view counts). Skippable video ads can be a maximum of 6 minutes long.
  • Bumper ads: Short video ads that of approximately 6 seconds in length that appear before, during, or after YouTube video content. Bumper ads are non-skippable ads.
  • Non-skippable in-stream video ads: In a non-skippable video ad, viewers are not given the choice to skip the ad. Note that non-skippable video ads do not increment the view count. Non skippable ads can be a maximum of 15 seconds or 20 seconds, depending on the region where Ad is being shown.

The reporting time zone for the “YouTube Reserve Video Viewability Report” will be the same as the timezone of the related campaign. A watermark check is included in the “YouTube Reserve Video Viewability Report” for quality check on the base metrics (Impressions, Invalid impressions, Measurable Impressions, Non-measurement impressions, Viewable impressions, Non-Viewable impressions) as well. You can compare the total numbers of these base metrics in the watermark with related numbers in the reporting table. In case of any discrepancies, reach out to your Google sales point of contact.The “Youtube Video Viewability” report is available based on customizable date ranges. Please contact your Google sales point of contact to request the report.

Communication around change in methodology

Any changes in the methodology is communicated via Google Ads Help Announcements.