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40% of Marketers Say They Plan Facebook Audits

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Marketers might be voting with their wallets in 2017, as faulty Facebook metrics, fake news, a pervasive ad fraud problem and poor transparency in the ad tech ecosystem has 50% of advertisers saying they won't spend ad dollars on platforms they consider risky, according to an Advertiser Perceptions survey released Wednesday.

With the exception of Google search advertising, confidence in digital or social platforms is significantly below 50%, the report said.

Two-thirds of those surveyed said they are questioning their investment with Facebook, with 40% of those saying they plan to execute independent audits of the social media platform's audience and ad delivery, according to the report. Even if they don't all follow through, the finding seems to suggest that Facebook can't take its momentum for granted.

And while 40% of advertisers said they plan to spend more in 2017 with Facebook and Google, only 8% said they'd spend more with Facebook but not Google, compared with 36% that said they'd spend more with Google but not Facebook.

"Facebook can't go whistling in the dark now," said Kevin Mannion, chief strategy officer at Advertiser Perceptions, in a statement. "While they've built up too much goodwill and success for the metrics restatements to automatically erode spending, they need to take the lead in third-party verification."

Ad dollars that defect from Facebook may indeed end up in Google's pockets. But don't expect to see an increase in ad spend on traditional formats like TV, said Rob Silver, senior VP of media at SapientRazorfish. "We are not seeing any of our clients pull away from digital platforms and shifting to TV or more traditional channels," Mr. Silver said. "The audiences and targeting enabled through digital are simply too important."

Mr. Silver added that his outfit is taking an "aggressive" approach with blocking objectionable content with tools that measure and prevent impressions they deem suspect. He added that SapientRazorfish is also looking to provide an even "greater level of transparency of inventory sources."

"Digital advertising platforms can't assume that trust issues will blow over," Mr. Mannion said. "No matter what is being said in meetings or from conference stages, the biggest ad buyers are clearly apprehensive."

Advertising Perceptions said no one funded the survey, adding that it sends out a different questionnaire each month to gauge the pulse of the industry. The organization polled 399 marketing executives from some of the top-spending agencies and marketers, it said. Roughly 40% of respondents came from marketers and 60% from agencies, according to Advertiser Perceptions.