Facebook submits to ad audit to prove its metrics can be trusted

Mark Zuckerberg F8 2016

Advertising is the lifeblood of Facebook Inc., bringing in billions of dollars in revenue each year, but after a series of metrics mishaps, the social network is trying to earn back advertisers’ trust.

In particular, the social network is sharing more data with its partners and by submitting to an audit by the Media Rating Council, an industry-funded organization that was formed in the 1960s to audit ratings services for television and radio broadcasts.

“As a partner to over four million advertisers across a wide range of organizations and objectives, we want to provide transparency, choice and accountability,” Facebook explained in a blog post. “Transparency through verified data that shows which campaigns drove measurable results, choice in how advertisers run campaigns across our platforms, and accountability through an audit and third-party verification.”

The MRC, whose website looks like something straight out of 1995, reviews audience measurement services to determine if they are accurate enough to be trusted. Then the MRC provides accreditation for the services that pass.

Facebook also noted in its announcement that it has continued to expand its roster of verification partners, who supplement Facebook’s data with metrics of their own. According to Facebook, its third-party verification program now includes 24 partners, including major organizations like the Nielsen Co., which is best known for its television ratings system.

To help its verification partners more accurately measure ads on Facebook, the social network said that it will share more detailed information about ad performance, including how long an ad was on the screen, how long 50 percent it appeared and how long 100 percent it appeared — all measured in milliseconds. Basically, this data will let Facebook’s verification partners know if a user was actively seeing an entire ad or if it was simply visible on the page while the user viewed something else.

In addition to the MRC audit and the expanded data for verification partners, Facebook also announced that it will be offering new purchase options for video ads that will give brands a few different ways to pay for ad media. Advertisers will now be able to choose between paying only for ads that have been watched to completion, paying for ads that were at least 50 percent visible for more than two seconds, or paying for ads that have their sound automatically turned on.

Image courtesy of Facebook