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This week, the Interactive Advertising Bureau relaunched some guidelines for measuring the effectiveness of in-game advertisements and eventually ads in the metaverse.
It was the first time since 2009 that the IAB, a standards body for the game and ad industries, took such an action on in-game ads. Back then, a lot of the guidelines had to do with mobile ads that were fresh on the scene back then.
But this standard takes into account things that came with in-game 3D visuals for console, PC, mobile and virtual reality games. And in that way, the significance of these new guideines is that it points the way to the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. Setting such guidelines are an important part of creating the standards that make it possible for massive changes and innovations — such as the metaverse — to come to computing and gaming.
In the past, 2D viewing was measurable. But with 3D, you can never really tell if a gamer or a VR user is actually looking at an ad in a 3D space. So the group had to team up with the industry to figure out how to properly give credit for an ad being viewed — as that the main reason people pay for ads — and how to measure that view.
In a joint collaboration between IAB, IAB Tech Lab, and the Media Rating Council (MRC), IAB has released its Intrinsic In-Game (IIG) Measurement Guidelines to establish updated measurement guidelines for ads that appear within gameplay. The release is open for public comment for a 30-day period until July 15, 2022.
When IAB released its current standard of in-game ad measurement standards in 2009, video games and advertising technology were in a vastly different stage of development. The updated standards will address ad viewability, measurement, inactivity, and fraud with intrinsic in-game ads bringing them up to par with the rest of digital media. For instance, an ad has to be viewed for at least three seconds before it gets credit for being viewed. That’s one way to circumvent any fraud relating to viewing.
But the value of such ads is important, as games are where the audiences are, at least the audiences that brands and others view as valuable targets for ads.
Intrinsic in-game ads refers to native in-game or in-play ads that are placed “in the game” enabling a seamless part of the gameplay environment. As more companies enter the gaming ecosystem, it’s critical that IAB and IAB Tech Lab gather the industry to help establish uniform standards needed to create consistency across the in-game advertising marketplace.
“Gaming represents a huge opportunity for marketers,” said Zoe Soon, vice president of IAB Experience Center, in a statement. “With 227 million gamers in the U.S., and over three billion globally by the end of this year, it’s a major entertainment channel, especially for Gen Z, the next generation of household decision-makers and spenders. We are updating the 2009 in-game guidelines to help marketers tap into this attention oasis and measure outcomes with confidence and transparency.”
The updated IIG measurement standards:
- Re-examines the 10-second cumulative exposure duration for counting a valid impression including “sight, sound, and motion”, as well as 3D and virtual environments.
- Incorporates new advertising formats beyond two-dimensional and video as it relates to viewability within in-game environments.
- Defines in-game measurement terms (impressions, reach / frequency, and engagement) to align with broader cross-channel measurement efforts.
“With IIG, we will have viewability standards within in-game environments and guidelines for tracking impression measurement, display ad viewability, and invalid traffic, taken into account with various technical factors such as screen size, resolution, angle, and lighting,” said Shailley Singh, vice president of product at IAB Tech Lab, in a statement. “These will be important factors as we prepare to scale advertising in gaming and expand growth in advertising for marketers and their partners as they operate in a relatively new space.”
“Technology has advanced considerably since we and IAB issued our first set of guidelines for in-game ad measurement, which predated critical measurement concepts like ad viewability, so it’s crucial that we issue this update to address the accelerated growth of gaming,” said George Ivie, executive director and CEO at the MRC, in a statement. “Through the IIG measurement guidelines, we can now have greater consistency versus having vendors create their own rules for their measurements, which enables publisher and buyer trust as the industry works together to create a non-intrusive ad experience.”
The project is a joint effort between the IAB Experience Center, the IAB Tech Lab and the Media Rating Council, with considerable input from members of IAB UK and a task force of prominent in-game ad companies, brands, and agencies.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau is a trade group that has more than 700 leading media companies, brands, agencies, and the technology firms responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital ad marketing campaigns.
Here’s an excerpt of the viewability of an ad below:
3.2.3 Ad Angle Relative to Game Screen
In instances where the ad angle can be measured for X and Y coordinates specifically, an ad angle no greater than 55 degrees (on an absolute basis) relative to the game screen is recommended in order for a Viewable Impression to be valid. When measuring angle, measurement should be conducted from the most center point of the portion of the ad that is on screen or the center of the surface that is being measured, with 0 degrees representing an ad facing the screen, 180 degrees representing an ad facing away from the screen and 90 degrees representing a state in between. However, it’s important to note that a critical objective of measuring ad angle is the determination of the extent to which the ad is shown distorted or compressed to the user, and whether this distortion or compression affects the opportunity to see the creative. The extent of this distortion or compression may vary depending on the environment or creative type, and measurement organizations that also consider Z coordinates may find further complexity in measuring ad angle. Due to these potential variables, measurement organizations may set different thresholds to determine the point in which the ad angle, or ad distortion or compression have reached a point where the creative no longer has the opportunity to be seen. Any differential thresholds set to determine this must be empirically supported and documented as well as periodically studied and adjusted where applicable. Additionally, measurement organizations should differentially consider non-uniform or uneven ad surfaces/objects for calculating angle and determining distortion, as the angle IAB In-Game Advertising Measurement Guidelines 2.0 – Public Comment Draft – 17 may change depending on the point or perspective of measurement. In these instances, measurement providers may measure angle on an uneven surface/object by separating the ad into approximate pieces and measuring each piece separately. Finally, measurement organizations should also consider prevailing industry guidance related to Out of Home (OOH) measurement related to ad angle and opportunity to see including the Exposure Zone requirements of the MRC’s Digital Place-Based Audience Measurement Standards.