Open Measurement: The final lap

Bringing the intention of the OM SDK across the finish line

01/28 By Joe Ranzenbach

The Open Measurement initiative was created to solve an industry-wide challenge: consumer attention had gone mobile, but advertiser spend was largely inhibited by the limited scale of third-party viewability measurement.

Advertisers who sought to verify that consumers had an opportunity to see the ads they paid for found an ecosystem fragmented by multiple vendors with low percentage market coverage. Publishers and supply-side platforms (SSPs) were forced to choose between either a) supporting a single vendor’s SDK but denying advertiser demand from those who preferred other vendors, or b) supporting multiple vendor SDKs but incurring added development, maintenance, and app bloat costs. Neither of which were the best solutions.

So, we had to figure out a way to help advertisers have the best of both worlds. We developed the precursor to Open Measurement and turned it over to the IAB Tech Lab in 2017. Since becoming generally available in April 2018, more than 50 Open Measurement SDK integrations have been certified and introduced a standardized SDK that supports all vendors and measurement for all major ad formats. The introduction of an industry-standard SDK has greatly alleviated the burdens faced by publishers and SSPs. At IAS, Open Measurement has been utilized in our methodology for the majority of in-app impressions we measure and is the global industry standard for the data collection necessary for in-app verification.

With the release of our new OM SDK Mini Guide, we’re taking a look at the ways in which Open Measurement has shaped the digital advertising ecosystem and how to bring its objective across the finish line.

Achieving Industry Scale

“Before Open Measurement, measuring in-app viewability was a mess,” says Verizon Media, whose Verizon Ads SDK featuring Open Measurement saw more than 50% adoption within the first three months after its release in June. With measurement coverage now across billions of mobile devices globally, industry scale for Open Measurement is becoming a tangible reality.

Since its inception, the OMWG now consists of over 200 working group members that represent more than 50 companies and over 350 app publishers, broadcasters, SSPs, and video technology companies have been granted access for the integration. The IAB has noted that the OM SDK is now available on billions of devices globally. More recently, the IAB has released OM SDK 1.3 which provides support for context-level brand safety and audio ads, among other features to improve the scope and functionality of the OM SDK. The introduction of audio measurement and brand safety is especially exciting—with a huge impact on advertisers and publishers alike. If you’re interested in learning more about this release and how to migrate, you can visit the OM SDK resource page or reach out to omsdksupport@iabtechlab.com.

Hold that victory lap

Despite all the progress that’s been made on coverage, it’s not time for a victory lap just yet. The reality is, many advertisers currently struggle with impression count discrepancies between their ad servers and verification vendors.

The primary reason for these discrepancies is advertisers are unable to explicitly target ad inventory that supports Open Measurement across the open exchange. Given that Verizon Media has achieved 50% coverage across its inventory base, how can advertisers ensure they’re delivering against the half that supports it? For VAST video campaigns, in particular, this represents the difference between verifying that your ad impressions had the opportunity to be seen, and not measuring the impression at all.

This problem is most commonly addressed today through private marketplaces (PMPs). Activating a private marketplace deal will solve the problem for some, but doesn’t scale well across the ecosystem at large, once we take into account that each certified integration would theoretically require a separate PMP deal.

Closing the gaps

Ideally, an ad buyer would be able to log into their DSP and simply click a button to target OM inventory—similar to what they already do for MRAID or VPAID. Given that a standardized method for signaling the presence of Open Measurement on an ad impression in both OpenRTB and AdCOM already exists, the reality is that this should be an option available to them today. So, why isn’t it?

While many SSPs have done the work to signal their impressions support OM (Verizon Media included), some have not. As an industry, we’re trying to champion an ecosystem that rewards good actors, so for supply sources that have done the work to integrate and certify Open Measurement, not signaling to buyers that their impressions are eligible is problematic.

This also further discourages demand-side platforms (DSPs) from facilitating frictionless transactions between advertisers and certified Open Measurement inventory. Most DSPs aren’t yet making use of OpenRTB signals for Open Measurement and therefore aren’t passing along targeting controls to advertisers. The primary fear is that doing so will limit transaction volumes, both by adding an additional filter that ad buyers can use to trim the pool of eligible impressions they bid against and due to concerns that not enough supply is passing these OpenRTB signals in the first place. Further, while there is some development work to enable such a toggle, their advertisers don’t seem to have been communicating that this is a priority.

The final lap is upon us

Achieving the progress made thus far by the Open Measurement Initiative has been no small feat. While it may not be time for a victory dance just yet, the final lap flag is waving. Crossing the finish line with the win will require the industry to both impel remaining supply-side adoption and push programmatic players to remove the friction that currently prevents advertisers from transacting at scale.

To properly streamline today’s disjointed buyer experience, it’s important to drive awareness around the path for standardized targeting practices and compel agencies and advertisers to utilize the power of their dollar to make it a reality.

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Originally posted by AdExchanger on Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

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