Media Ranking Council is denying accreditation for Pinterest’s video advert measurements
Brands like Ocean Spray and Royal Caribbean International have video ads on Pinterest. But in April, the metrics the platform provides advertisers with to measure video ad impressions were denied a stamp of approval from the Media Rating Council, the industry body that has relied on for decades to review the processes media companies use to measure advertising.
The MRC denied accreditation for the video metrics provided by Pinterest itself, including video ad impressions, viewable video ad impressions and associated visibility metrics, and video clicks in mobile in-app environments. The MRC announced that Digiday’s audit found that Pinterest’s method of counting video ad impressions and ad delivery did not meet the industry minimums. The MRC said it was not disclosing any audit details.
Pinterest had the choice to start the auditing process again in the hopes of obtaining certification in the future, but instead the company decided to withdraw from auditing its self-reported video ad impression metrics, which the MRC also called “First” are referred to as party “metrics. “Based on our video product roadmap, we decided to withdraw this metric from accreditation,” a Pinterest spokesman told Digiday for this exclusivity.
While it’s unclear how denying MRC accreditation could harm Pinterest’s advertising business, MRC approval would have helped the platform’s pitch towards advertisers. MRC accreditation for standardized ad metrics is important to Pinterest because without it, video advertisers can only compare their Pinterest campaigns to other Pinterest data instead of seeing how ads on the platform compare to ads on other platforms, said a spokesman for the agency on condition of anonymity.
“Pinest’s biggest challenge is that they get right in the middle,” said the agency director. This person said that Pinterest attracts people while they’re in the middle of the sales funnel, not at the top when brands want to reach people to get attention, and not at the bottom, where people click and make a purchase.
MRC certification is important because it enables advertisers to compare ad impressions across platforms in a standardized way, according to Nancy Smith, president and CEO of Analytic Partners, Facebook, Google, Amazon and Snap. “Advertisers want to understand that they are looking [at] a common metric, ”she said.
The importance of an impression
The rejection of the accreditation appears to be based on a discrepancy in the printing criteria and at what time Pinterest registers or logs a video ad impression. Currently, the platform measures both display and video impressions using the same methodology and counts an impression when at least one pixel of an ad is displayed on the screen for at least a second, even if the video was not actually played. The MRC, on the other hand, logs a video ad impression only when video is visible and starts playing.
Pinterest’s disapproval surfaced on a list posted on the MRC website, along with approvals for various metrics from media companies and third-party measurement companies. The council that oversees audits conducted by outside companies such as Deloitte and Ernst & Young (EY) typically does not publish its ad measurement audit decisions.
Pinterest is still in regular discussions with MRC about a possible certification of ad metrics, including its self-provided display impressions, clicks on organic posts (so-called “pin clicks”) and metrics provided by third-party providers for display and video visibility reports. The Pinterest spokesman said, “We will continue to evaluate resources for future accreditation of video impressions and align ourselves with the standards for feed-based platforms.” The company also emphasized that it measures views for video according to the MRC standard, the A video view only counts if 50% of it has appeared on the screen and has been played for at least two seconds.
Pinterest isn’t the only one getting denied MRC verification. For example, in April 2019, the MRC announced that it had revoked accreditation for Hulus mobile web display, video and rich media ad impressions. According to the MRC site, the company’s display, video, and rich media rendering impressions for desktop, in-app, and streaming are currently OK from MRC.
Pinterest argues that most of the other social sites – besides YouTube – also don’t have MRC certification for various self-reported video metrics. However, MRC officials said that while this applies to social media platforms, the review agency has approved video ad impression metrics for “at least a dozen” third-party ad servers and verification services.