MRC Releases First Digital Audio Measurement Standards


The first-of-its kind standard that outlines measurement and reporting requirements for digital audio advertising and content in either browser or App environments requiring a software-based audio player have been finalized.

The Media Rating Council (MRC) has issued its Digital Audio Measurement Standards, and the principles noted in these guidelines apply to digital audio ads and content regardless of whether they are delivered through a digital audio streaming environment or through a progressive download approach, including podcasts.

The document was developed in collaboration with a group of organizations involved in the digital audio industry, including digital audio ad buyers and sellers, digital audio content distributors, measurement services and others.

Notably, the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB), National Association of Broadcasters’ Committee on Local Radio Audience Measurement (COLRAM), and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) participated in the project working group and as sponsoring association partners.

A preliminary draft of the standard was previously issued for public comment in June 2017.

“These new standards will advance the state of digital audio measurement, and make it more comparable with measurement of other media types,” MRC Executive Director/CEO George W. Ivie said. “As measurers step forward to be audited and ultimately accredited against these standards, buyers of digital audio advertising will be able to gain assurance that the measurements on which they evaluate their digital ad investments—whether those ads appear in streaming audio, audio podcasts, or other relevant digital audio environments—serve as a true reflection of the exposure of these ads to audiences.”

Among some of the most important provisions of the MRC’s Digital Audio Measurement Standards are:

  • A description of the approaches that should be applied to the measurement and reporting of digital audio under a variety of different content and advertising distribution models. These can include both reporting digital audio metrics on a standalone basis, as well as in combination with over-the-air audio simulcasts.
  • A requirement that measurements occur on the client side. Server side transaction records are generally not considered acceptable for measurement of digital audio activity because they are subject to overstatement and significant inaccuracy, and are never permitted as a basis for digital audio metrics that rely on longitudinal data observations.
  • A definition of an “Audio Ad Impression” that requires the ad to have been played with the digital audio player in a non-muted state and at a non-zero volume. In addition, these ads must be filtered for invalid traffic using methods that comply with the requirements of the MRC’s Invalid Traffic Detection and Filtration Guidelines Addendum’s provisions for General Invalid Traffic (GIVT). The use of additional Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT) detection processes is strongly encouraged, and is required for audience metrics for digital audio.
  • The introduction of the concept of an “Audible Ad Impression”—in a sense, the audio equivalent of a Viewable Ad Impression. While the standard puts forward certain requirements for this new metric (the ad also must play for a minimum duration of two continuous seconds, in addition to satisfying the requirements for qualification as an Audio Ad Impression), the standard also specifies that additional research will be conducted to determine the parameters by which an Audible Ad Impression will be defined on a permanent basis.

The MRC’s Digital Audio Measurement Standards will serve as a primary assessment criteria for those digital audio measurers that seek to have their services independently validated through the MRC accreditation process.

The Standards document is available through a link at the MRC website.