The Render Rate is Coming!

One of the largest problems facing email marketers today is the lack of industry standards for email metrics. One such much maligned measurement is the open rate. To help fellow email marketers, the Measurement Accuracy Roundtable was formed by service providers and other industry members of the Email Experience Council (eec). For the past several months, we have been working on finding a way to solve this problem, working specifically with the open metric. We have developed a group of definitions and standards to develop a new, better metric, the Render Rate. Through a lot of participation and hard work, the Measurement Accuracy Roundtable come up with what we believe is a clear and consistent definition, but we need the participation of one more person – YOU – our industry colleagues.

We seek feedback and input from email marketers, email solutions providers, agencies, publishers and other online marketing colleagues. You can download a copy of the definitions, how they are calculated and other information from the eec website here. Please post all comments here on the eec blog, so members of the Roundtable will have a depository of all industry comments to review and incorporate into this new industry standard.

The comment period for industry and other public feedback will run from today until the end of March. During April, we will assemble and review all comments, and revise the definitions as necessary to incorporate your input into this new industry standard. The final version is tentatively scheduled to be released in early May. We hope our fellow marketers and email solutions providers will support this initiative by adopting the new names and including them into their reporting systems.

Additional information will be posted on the eec website.

The Roundtable wishes to offer special thanks to the following members for their contributions: John Caldwell, Adam Covati, David Daniels, Luke Glasner (co-chair), Loren McDonald (co-chair), Stephanie Miller, Morgan Stewart and Chad White.

– Luke Glasner

16 thoughts on “The Render Rate is Coming!

  1. I believe that the term ‘open rate’ must not only be changed, it must be replaced entirely with a new ‘delivery rate’ or ‘inbox confirmation’ metric.

    I think the main point is this: Measuring whether someone enables the images to display in a single email – or for all emails as a default setting – is a cool technical feature, but it doesn’t equate to an indication of meaningful interactivity no matter what you call it. (Clicks, which also trigger an ‘open’ or ‘render’ are measured separately anyway.)

    There are ways to determine whether an email ended up in the inbox, and so I propose that the industry help to define and agree on a ‘delivery rate’ (different from ‘non-bounce rate’) or ‘inbox confirmation.’ It will take more effort and cooperation to make this happen because of the technology involved, but it’s worth it. Here’s why.

    1. These terms are clear to the majority of email users (small and medium businesses, organizations, and associations). 2. These terms have real meaning to the industry because a delivery rate will be much higher than a render rate could ever be. 3. These terms place a true value on using reputable email service providers who can increase delivery significantly.

    Let’s leave terms like ‘render rate’ to big brands who value the number of logo impressions they can achieve. If that’s your goal, I recommend calling it ‘impressions’ instead of ‘render rate’ anyway in order to stay consistent with other marketing terminology.

  2. This "render" rate could help understand low click rate when the email is poorly designed, no alts or clear enough text to replace the lack of images displayed.

    The technical behind the concept is quite easy to setup and develop. But most of us really to see the financial advantage before implementing the changes.

    Personally what I need is all the data necessary to really understand what happened with a campaign. Open rate, click rate. A "render" or "full mail display" rate could help me understand the click rate and explain this rate to my advertisers or brands.

    The risk with this particular stat is that brands for example will pay per render and no more per click or open. A brand wants her logo/message to be seen, render will definitely show this exposure.

  3. Chris,

    The members of the roundtable discussed trying to standardize the definition of the "open rate" and we decided that it was impossible. How would anyone know if an ESP was presenting the standardized open rate or their own? That approach doesn’t fix the problem of there being too many definitions being used for the "open rate."

    That’s why we developed the render rate. Now when you see that term used you’ll know exactly what it means.

  4. We putted together last week all this indicators on our system, we kept also our open rate as an alternative definition for action rate. The interesting aspect was that ??all most all customers start to realize what actually we have mean until now by open rate and they understand better what is the difference between having a subscriber that only click on a link (without render) and those who render.

    What was interested to see, was the fact that for all most all brand newsletter the difference between render rate and action rate (previous open rate on our system) was quite small, but this difference is quite big for publisher. So my first conclusion after few days of using all metrics together was that it helps our job to understand better recipient behavior for each case and also I feel that customers understand better what actually was ??the open???

    There also I believe it is necessary to go further to determine CTRO for those who render and those who made actions??

  5. A few comments

    1. I haven’t read the report b/c it takes WAY too much of my time just to view it. I clicked several inks before finally arriving at a page with at least 10 input fields. No way I’m filling those in, sorry.

    2. Personally, I believe any focus on open rate is distracting people from the real goals of email marketing, which is engagement. Open rates do not measure engagement and in my experience, they distract my customers more than they provide insight. I’d get rid of the measurement if I could, but they expect the measure. From the very little I’ve read about render, it is simply more of the same.

    I can be influenced. The actual report might help.

  6. My issue with this whole Render Rate proposal is it’s adding a layer of complexity that isn’t necessary. Why do we need Unique Emails Rendered and Unique Actions? (Unique Actions would be how EmailDirect calculates Opens right now.)

    Im all for somebody defining standard metrics but let’s create the formal definition for Open Rate. Why do we need to leave a supposedly broken term to it’s brokenness and create a new one? Why not just fix the broken term?

    I posted a blog on this here:


  7. Great work and discussion initiated by the eec!

    Yet my vote goes against the render rate. It’s just another name for the currently not so well known definition of open rate.

    Suppose I need some budget for rendering tests on my emails, my boss will expect a spectacular increase in render rate after these tests. But both concepts are just slightly related, and I can start explaining about the difference and the impact of rendering on render rate…

    The action rate is a nice concept, but please, give it another name. An action like opening (if it is a deliberate action at all) is totally different from an action like clicking.

    Although I’m not supporting the changes, it is very good that this discussion has been started.

  8. I’m not sure why we need a new metric…

    You can still count clicks without images as a successful open, just not a successful render. In truth a well designed messages don’t need images to be fully usable by subscribers. Personally speaking, there are plenty of messages I don’t call images for but still fully interact with.

    This adds another layer of complexity and report obscurity to an ESPs system… your still going to have the same issues around the various calculations from ESPs you have with open rates, bounce rates, etc…


  9. Hi,

    I must admit that I was a little bit confused after the first announce regarding open and render rate but after I read the documentation??I find ??render rate? and all the rest having a great relevance and further more I believe this are the right metrics to stimulate the usage of certified services.

    Great job!

  10. [I’d also like to express my appreciation of the efforts of the Roundtable on behalf of the industry. The discussion alone justifies the work.]

    I like the term render rate because it obviously more accurately represents what is being measured. Names and terms do matter. But we are creatures of habit and I wonder if the use of a "render rate" just adds another layer of confusion.

    There are many parts of the world and many users of marketing email that aren’t tuned into this debate and/or this forum at all. So if some folk start talking about render rates while others continue to call it an open rate, we now have even more confusion than before.

    So I’d agree with the document’s focus on standardizing how open/render numbers are calculated and encouraging clarity of meaning in campaign reports, rather than trying to force through name changes.

    I sympathize with John Arnold’s view on the terminology. Does the term "render" mean much outside web design and industry insider circles? I like it, but I imagine many marketers would struggle with it.

    I don’t have an obvious alternative. Perhaps "open/render rate" as a way to begin the transition away from "open rate"?

    I have more reservations about the use of the term "action". The biggest gripe about "open rate" was always that the name implied much more than it was actually measuring. Would we not repeat that mistake by using "actions" to describe the number of *renders* and unrendered clicks.

    Action is strongly associated with exactly that – a premeditated action by the *recipient*. And we already have the "call to action" in our vocabulary. Seems inappropriate to describe rendering by the *email client* or *webmail interface* as an action when it need not involve any conscious effort on the part of the recipient.

    I can see history repeating itself, with people thrilled at a 35% "unique email action rate" when the vast majority of those "actions" were quite possibly people scrolling past your email without giving it a moment’s thought and triggering a render in a preview pane.

    Also not sure on the practical value of those "action" metrics – what insights do you draw from them? Is there more value in having render metrics and then simply distinguishing between total clicks and those just from emails that were not rendered (using your definitions: unique actions – unique renders).

    The big benefit of doing that is extrapolating to a follow-on metric (which you might also consider defining) with an indication of the proportion of emails that must be being viewed as text or with image blocking.

    If memory serves me right, you calculate the ratio of [clicked and rendered] to [no click but rendered] and apply that to the [clicked and did not render] metric to get a [no click and did not render] number.

    The extrapolation isn’t entirely fair because CTR of rendered HTML and text/image-blocked email isn’t going to be identical, but it might form the basis of a rough real deliverability metric, since you are effectively estimating the number of emails actually "seen" by end users?

    Again, thanks for initiating this debate.

  11. It’s great to see the eec working on these definitions to help the email marketing community get consistency. I’m not sure that all ESPs out there will adopt them, simply because they may not be aware of the definitions, but it’s good to try.

    My ESP counts a click without a render as an open (because obviously they’ve opened the email in order to click), but I can that the way you are separating the statistics into actions and renders is more accurate.

    My only concern is the end consumers ability to make use of the additional statistics and really understand what they mean.

    Another post above mentioned wanting to track delivery into the inbox instead of opens. I believe that it would be good to track that as well, not instead (we need to know that an email was read not just arrived in a very full inbox). My ESP is also an SMS solution and of course we can already easily track delivery of an SMS. It would be nice to track delivery + render + click.

    Keep up the good work. I look forward to the release of the final definitions.

  12. I don’t like the definition term "Unique Email Action Rate". It’s just too complicated.

    We are just adding standard unique full opens (with images) + no image opens (who we discover because they click). Common sense calls this just "readers".

    I think that the best definition should be just "Read Rate".

    If someone calculates the "read rate" just as the standard "open rate", it’s not our matter!

    Who is a reader? Someone who download email images, or someone who clicks even without downloading images.

  13. I love when new metrics are created in order to help measure a campaign and its success. I wish I could get in on more round tables but time is so critical as an ESP. I agree with the calculations, and I think they reflect much more than your standard "open" rate.

    I only have 1 question. On our clients emails, we use a 1×1 pixel image to track opens, reads, etc. How is this HTML for the render rate any different? I’m sure this is for my coders to worry about but I’d like to give them an idea for when we implement this new metric!

    Thanks again to all the efforts of the eec and its partners!

  14. The problem with trying to adopt a single standard for open rate goes beyond what Chad explains. His point is definitely a big one we discussed in that if we simple suggest a standard for calculation, then it will be very difficult to know if a given email provider is using the "agreed method" or their own interpretation (which is what is being done today).

    Beyond that, different industries and companies use "open rates" for different things. For companies simply looking for the biggest number, they tend to want those extra clicks count as an open as well. However, for companies displaying ads in their email (think publishers), the number desired is what we have proposed as "renders" as it ties back directly to ad impressions that need to be reconciled. These are both valid uses and each deserves to see clear metrics that apply to their business models.

    As for my employer, ExactTarget, the intent is not to do away with "open rates" completely in the application. This would create confusion… and support nightmares during the transition. Instead we will clarify ow different columns are tabulated using the EEC guidelines. for example, "Open Rate (Render Rate)" and "Open Rate (Action Rate)" might both appear in the app.

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