Back in September, the WSJ reported in an article that Facebook admitted to overestimating the average viewing time for video on its ad platform (WSJ article link). This was not a surprise as many in the industry suspected this was the case. But the WSJ created immediate reaction across major media firms and advertisers.
Within days of the WSJ article, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) swiftly reacted asking Facebook to open up its platform to more transparency and third-party measurement. We need to bear in mind that the Media Rating Council (MRC) does not verify Facebook’s own measurement methods.
Admittedly, Facebook has apologized, and in a recent Facebook blog post by David Fischer, it has recognized this issue and taken corrective action to address this miscalculation metric. One thing to point out is that the metric itself did not affect campaign performance as it was not a metric used as currency for buying ads, but it raised doubts on a larger level as it provided misguided information, which could have been used to make buying decisions over other platforms. Facebook has repeatedly talked about gearing its platform towards video.
Both Google and Facebook offer a large suite of solutions from an advertising perspective and not only do they seem to be on top of ad tech trends, but also driving the change by riding their massive reach.
In a moment when, more than ever, the term “Walled Gardens” is heard when discussing Google and Facebook’s strategy related to external measurement, and we see those “walls” getting thicker and higher with new solutions, situations like this do raise a few valid questions.
- What other things should we know? Has this blindness gone too far? To what extent can we trust these metrics?
- And of course, who’s to blame for this? Agencies? Advertisers? Other vendors? Everyone?
There’s no doubt that these exceptions are a result of a combination of factors and players:
- Both Google and Facebook offer a large suite of solutions from an advertising perspective and not only do they seem to be on top of ad tech trends, but also driving the change by riding their massive reach.
- External vendors are having a harder time differentiating themselves from the pack and providing valid points on why their products/solutions can fulfill marketer’s needs better than “the big guys”. There seems to be too many companies doing the same thing, and very few standing out from the rest of the pack.
- Agencies and clients have been lenient in establishing standards for all vendors and media outlets. While most of these companies end up relying on relationships with MRC or IAB verifying vendors, Google and Facebook have been able to keep their platform from being MRC compliant, and adhering to a limited number of third-party integrations.
One thing is certain, these “Walled Gardens” will most likely start seeing holes punched in their walls, as we can hardly imagine a future where critical decision metrics for marketers are not audited or made transparent by unbiased specialized external firms, as is currently happening with other media companies.
Perhaps this was what the digital industry needed to set a standard towards trackability, transparency and accountability. After all, the reason advertisers and marketers have come to embrace digital media is precisely for its measurability and accountability based on trust-worthy metrics.
Cristian has been part of Pulpo for over 5 years. Being involved in the Ad Operations and Product Departments, he has also managed and directed succesful teams.His roles have included Account Management, Sales Engineering, Analytics & Programmatic for US Hispanic and LATAM clients.