Facebook bows to pressure, commits to MRC verification
- Facebook revealed a number of new accountability developments in a blog post today, the most significant of which is a commitment to an audit by the Media Rating Council to verify the accuracy of the information it delivers to marketing partners. This and other moves will be integrated over the course of the year.
- The company is also committing to providing more impression level data which, to start, will include milliseconds that an ad was on the screen; milliseconds that 50% of an ad was on the screen and milliseconds that 100% of the ad was on the screen.
- In recognition of the fact that marketers have different campaign objectives, Facebook will, later this year, also introduce three new buying options for videos across Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network: Completed-view buying of only ads that have been viewed in their entirety; two-second buying where at least 50% of an ad’s pixels are in-view for at least two continuous seconds, and sound-on buying for video ads.
The news suggests new-found power for brands such as P&G, the world’s largest advertiser, to influence the digital marketing ecosystem, even against behemoths like Facebook. While Facebook has beefed up its third-party verification over the past few months, it has resisted MRC verification until now. In the blog post, the social media giant also announced that it now has 24 third-party verification partners.
It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that just last week, P&G’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard called the digital marketing industry to task for allowing the evolution of a non-transparent media supply chain rampant with low-quality ads. He gave platforms a year to acquire MRC accreditation and meet minimum viewing requirements, among other demands, or the company would take its business elsewhere.
Concerns over the lack of transparency in digital marketing started boiling over last year as Facebook revealed one metrics mishap after another, underscoring just how much of its own internal measurements were wrong.
MRC is considered the gold standard of verification in advertising, but even Pritchard admitted that it is not a perfect solution. Never the less, MRC verification is an important first step in the face of the many new types of engagements offered by mobile and social media platforms.
The typical argument by social media execs as to why they don’t get independent verification is that the unique nature of engagements can’t be adequately measured by existing standards. For years, brands accepted this assessment because they were desperate to get in front of digital users, even as a non-transparent ecosystem meant they couldn’t accurately assess the impact of their efforts. Pritchard’s words last week suggest that the balance of power is changing, with big brands beginning to assume the kind of influence in the digital arena that they already enjoy in traditional marketing.