The importance of open sourcing software to keep apace in an ever changing digital landscape

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Jason Cooper, General Manager, Mobile at Integral Ad Science

Mobile is projected to represent nearly 80% of digital ad spending by 2020 and over 40% of consumers check their phones within the first five minutes of waking up in the morning. The average 18- to 24-year-old will do so a further 81 times over the course of the day. Mobile devices have become central to our lives, affecting how we interact with the world around us.

However, even with increasing mobile usage, third-party verification and the measurement of performance of mobile impressions remains a challenge for the advertising industry. The gap between advertisers’ mobile viewability requirements and measurement vendors’ capabilities has become a commonly cited roadblock to growth in mobile ad spending.  While advertisers want 100% measurable inventory, some platforms report figures as low as 5% to 10%.

The measurement of quality in advertising is not new to digital ad buyers, but it is a relatively new priority for mobile — particularly given that the Media Ratings Council (MRC) guidelines for mobile viewability were only finalised less than a year ago.

Viewability measurement for ads delivered in-app is not so simple, as the ad container speaks a different tech language than the mobile app. For instance, it’s possible for the ad to be loaded in the container, but for the container itself to be out of view. To help bridge the gap between advertisers viewability requirements and measurement vendors capabilities, Integral Ad Science (IAS) developed its SDK that enables an app to communicate with a mobile device and with services outside of the device, just like is done with a JavaScript tag.

A software development kit (SDK) is a library of code that enables an application to communicate with a mobile device and with services outside of the device. Many different types of SDKs exist in the market today, enabling app developers to get off-the-shelf solutions for their apps when addressing common challenges like authenticating users, processing payments, reporting crashes, and monetising with ads.

The market needs an in-app viewability measurement solution that is independent, scalable, transparent and trusted. The MRC has encouraged a collaborative approach to measurement –  such as open source – that can be used by all parties, rather than a proprietary, closed source, approach, as this more efficiently combats the industry challenge around the adoption of multiple vendor SDKs  An open source SDK, such as that introduced by IAS in December 2016, provides true third-party measurement of in-app inventory that is accurate, actionable, and MRC-accredited. It helps to align the industry to a common standard that can be adopted across the supply landscape, without introducing challenges of combining data from multiple vendors or sources. And finally, open sourcing, provides transparency into vendor measurement methodologies, and enables the testing, verification, and troubleshooting of an integration.

IAS has worked closely with major industry organisations and partners across the digital ecosystem, leading to the creation of the IAB Tech Lab Coalition for Open Measurement. The goal of the coalition is to ensure widespread feedback and formal representation To help make this open source solution a true industry standard, the IAB Tech Lab has assumed governance of the coalition, they will encourage the widespread adoption of the open source SDK.

Moving to an open source approach solves challenges around fragmentation, the lack of standards and transparency, and operational inefficiencies. The IAB Tech Lab Coalition for Open Measurement creates a way for all companies to get involved and work towards a streamlining mobile viewability measurement which is crucial to achieving scale.

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