- Facebook executives detailed the three-step strategy the company is enacting to address viewability issues on its platform, including working closely with the Media Rating Council (MRC), at a press conference at its new measurement science center and as reported by Adweek.
- The first part of the process includes an audit by the MRC, previously announced in February, though no concrete timeline was outlined by the social giant for the audit. The MRC will then analyze Facebook data to formulate viewability with third parties comScore, Moat and Integral Ad Science. Finally, Facebook will offer a new buying option for advertisers that will be analyzed by the MRC for assurance that it falls in-line with its definition of viewability.
- The MRC defines viewability as video ads that are watched for more than two seconds, or when 50% of display ads are in view on a page for at least one second. Last year, Facebook admitted to greatly overinflating the viewability of its video ads, along with a number of other measurement errors, and has since expanded partnerships with its measurement partners.
Facebook has often been harshly criticized for its walled garden approach to measurement but continued internal metrics errors, coupled with growing pressure from marketing industry figures like Procter & Gamble's Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard, are slowly opening up more third-party accreditation on the platform. Viewability, in particular, is a top-level concern for marketers as digital issues like ad fraud and low-quality advertisements persist.
Last month, Forrester Research published a report that found U.S. marketers wasted as much as $7.4 billion on display ads last year, with 56% of those dollars being put toward ads that were either fraudulent or unviewable inventory. Viewability is also a crucial metric for video marketing, and Facebook likely wants to allay concerns over the accuracy of its measurements as it moves to launch a premium video service and pushes toward a video-first focus more broadly amid considerable ad load slowdown on its main platform.
However, even as Facebook lowers some of the barriers to its walled garden, it also appears to have offered veiled criticisms of thought leaders like Pritchard, who've put a strong premium on viewability.
"It's also worth noting that the metrics that really matter at the end are driving sales," Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said on the company's Q1 earnings call earlier this month. "[A]ny of the engagement with ad metrics, whether it's remembering an ad going back to — people have been measuring that for a long time too, how long a video ad is viewed, are only proxy metrics. What matters is the impact on sales."