Ad Tech & Ad Ops

What is the Media Rating Council?

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Media Rating Council gets mentioned in the news a lot. For instance, you may have heard a few months ago, Facebook received the MRC accreditation. Also, Innovid recently received the industry’s first MRC accreditation for video ad impression measurement. This raises questions about what the Media Rating Council is and why’s it important.

Read on get the answers (including why should publishers care).

What is Media Rating Council?

Media rating council or MRC is an independent organization that aims to maintain the quality of audience measurement using rating services. The MRC accredits audience measurement services that are used by buyers and sellers in the advertising industry.

MRC was established in 1960 and started as audience research management service related to TV and radio industries. Quickly, its mission became to make the media industry’s audience measurement methods valid, reliable, and effective.

MRC ensures that the details provided by the vendor related to the audience are correct and near to accurate. This is to prevent any misrepresentation in the industry. Any vendor can get accreditation by MRC by going through an audit. A vendor could be any company offering the audience insight (such as Google Adsense, Facebook, or Twitter).

What is the MRC Certificate?

An MRC certificate proves that the vendor is using best practices for audience measurement, and can help gain the trust of advertisers and marketers. However, an MRC certificate does not mean that the audience measurement is 100% accurate, only that the vendor is compliant with the measurement standards set by Media Rating Council.

In order to get MRC certificate, applicants go through two steps:

  • Pre-Audit: This step involves asking information about the applicant’s company to ensure that it has certain features to pass the full audit
  • Independent Audit: This is the verification step where MRC asks an external firm to verify that the information provided by the applicant’s company is correct

The entire audit process is confidential. Here’s what MRC can ask while auditing a vendor:

  • Client-facing and internal documentation
  • Internal procedures for client onboarding, issue tracking, etc.
  • Compliance with the IAB standards
  • Technical implementation details
  • Live tests and data extractions
  • Platform availability

Once a vendor passes the audit, MRC issues the certificate and adds the vendor’s details to their website and public database.

Why Does Ad Tech Need the MRC?

Because of rising ad fraud, organizations like MRC are more important than ever. The ad industry needs a fair method to verify that the audience information is correct.

There are numerous cases reported (including Facebook) where advertisers have been misled about audience details and/or impression numbers. Based on this wrong information, vendors have been known to sell campaigns at a higher price than they were supposed to. This kind of unethical business practices had to be eradicated.

And that’s why ad tech needs an independent organization to create the standards for verifying and auditing audience measurements.

Who are the Members of the MRC?

Media Rating Council has 150+ members including notable brand names in TV and radio broadcasting, cable, print, internet and advertising agency business.

Benefits of being an MRC member:

  • MRC members have seats on the MRC Board of Directors for key industry decisions and votes.
  • They decide whether a company should get MRC accreditation.
  • Also, members get a say while deciding the audit rating quality.
  • MRC members have access to other members’ ideas and together they set industry standards.

What’s in it for Publishers?

IAB and MRC work together to improve the display advertising standards. The MRC audit process starts with asking whether a vendor complies with IAB standards or not. They have together created ad verification guidelines to enhance brand safety. These guidelines cover topics like geo-targeting, site context, ad placement, competitive separation, and fraud detection, for the benefit of the entire ad industry.

MRC is here to provide a better audience insight using which publishers can categorize their audience based on various demographics. Also, MRC guidelines include measures to improve ad viewability. For publishers, better ad viewability is known to improve overall revenue.

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