Facebook has recently announced that the social media giant has agreed to undergo an independent audit conducted by the Media Rating Council. Facebook had reportedly begun discussions with MRC late last year in December, but now they have committed to carrying out an audit in order to verify the level of accuracy in the measurements that they submit to its ad partners.
However, Facebook has not made any statement on when the audit will actually begin or if it will lead to any type of accreditation. This may just be a glimpse into the inner-workings of the company in order to prove that everything is above board. Regardless of the exact outcome, the increase of transparency is considered a benefit for the industry.
“Whether Facebook pushes for actual certification or whether they just want the industry’s blessing, this is a positive development for the industry,” said Steven Woolway from DoubleVerify. He considers the move a positive sign of change in the industry.
Industry Pressure For More Transparency
Facebook had been traditionally resistant to openness about their measurement processes or to allowing third-party measurement anywhere near its operations. However, this is clearly begun to change and is likely the result of increased demand from ad purchasers who want to see more accountability in their practices. Rising criticism from other actors in the industry may have also pushed Facebook’s hand when it comes to transparency.
During an AdExchanger event in 2015, Facebook received some criticism from John Montgomery, the Executive Vice President of global brand safety at GroupM, who passed judgement on Facebook for being resistant to third-party viewability tracking. In response, Facebook opened its doors to a selection of third-party tracking organizations, such as DoubleVerify, that have all been accredited by MRC.
Despite this, Facebook themselves is still not accredited in any form by the Media Rating Council, which is causing some waves across the industry. Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer from P&G, recently demanded that platforms, publishers and digital media outlets start to adopt the standards set forth by the MRC. This demand was followed by a threat that P&G would withdraw its digital media funding from platforms that failed to do so.
Moving Forward With Transparency
Whether or not this criticism was the determining factor for Facebook’s push into more transparent operations, the move for an independent audit is considered a step in the right direction by many.
Facebook claims that the upcoming audit was “in the works for some time,” according to Rob Goldman, Facebook’s VP of product, ads and pages, who spoke with AdExchanger recently about the MRC audit.
“There is increased interest from advertisers in third-party verification, whether that be in the form of verification partners or audits from industry bodies like the MRC,” Goldman stated. “While we’re not concerned about fraud on our platform, and we only charge for impressions that enter the viewport, we know that the more transparent we can be, the better partner we are to marketers.”