GroupM launched an effort to create new standards for viewability and measurement of advertising that appears on connected television (CTV). The ad-buying giant, a unit of WPP, will have exclusive access to a new software tool that media-measurement firm is developing to verify that commercials appear on streaming video. The test product, iSpot CTV Verification is built on iSpot’s Unified Measurement product, according to an announcement.

GroupM also is partnering with Disney, Fox/Tubi, LG Ads Solutions, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Vizio, Warner Bros. Discovery and other companies to create a more accurate measurement framework for CTV advertising.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what would happen when everybody in the industry is saying the same thing and fully incentivized to come together to solve a problem,” Mike Fisher, head of advanced TV at Essence/GroupM, said in this Beet.TV interview with Sr. Editor Rob Williams. “We all want to make sure that all of the ads that our mutual clients are buying are as viewable and as measurable as possible.”

Ads Play When CTV Is Shut Off

These initiatives come as research by GroupM and shows that 8% to 10% of streaming video ads are delivered after viewers turn off their internet-connected TVs. They also found that 17% of ads shown on TVs connected to a streaming device — including dongles, sticks and gaming consoles — occur while the TV is off. The reason is that TVs don’t always tell these ancillary devices when viewers have turned off their TV.

“One of the things that we leaned in very heavily over the last year is: how do we start to make CTV even more trustworthy and accountable than we all know it already is?” Fisher said. “That involves really bringing together different parts of the ecosystem to bring a level of trust, validation and verification to a screen and streaming distribution point that is so important.”

The viewability problem doesn’t occur on smart TVs that are loaded with streaming apps because they work as a single piece of hardware. For six months last year, GroupM and iSpot evaluated hundreds of millions of CTV impressions delivered through 20 million smart TVs made by Vizio.

“There is a 0% occurrence of this happening when people are streaming apps on their smart TV,” Fisher said. “The operating system of the TV that has an app layer when you turn off the TV, it will stop.”

Costly Problem for Advertisers

The technical glitch could be costly for advertisers, considering that they’re estimated to spend $18.9 billion this year to advertise on streaming apps that have commercial breaks, according to Insider Intelligence. Advertisers may be paying $1.5 billion to $1.9 billion for CTV ads that are served to dark screens, the Wall Street Journal estimated.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), an industry trade group, in the third quarter will release a software development kit to help measure and verify ad viewability.

“With any technological advancements, it’s our job to close the gaps so all avenues of ad delivery are verified,” Kirk McDonald, chief executive of GroupM North America, said in a statement. “As responsible investment stewards of our clients’ media spend, this verification illuminates both the issue and the opportunity for our industry.”