ANA Calls for Facebook Metrics to Be Audited and Accredited

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Facebook VP-Measurement Science Facebook Brad Smallwood; Hearts & Science CEO Scott Hagedorn; Co-Founder & CEO Visual IQ Manu Mathew and President and COO Nielsen Steve Hasker at the Breaking Down Measurement Barriers panel earlier this week.
Facebook VP-Measurement Science Facebook Brad Smallwood; Hearts & Science CEO Scott Hagedorn; Co-Founder & CEO Visual IQ Manu Mathew and President and COO Nielsen Steve Hasker at the Breaking Down Measurement Barriers panel earlier this week. Credit: John Lamparski/Getty Images

The Association of National Advertisers is calling for Facebook's metrics to be audited and accredited by the Media Rating Council in light of the social media network's disclosure that it has been giving marketers an inflated number for the average time spent viewing online clips.

"While ANA recognizes that 'mistakes do happen,' we also recognize that Facebook has not yet achieved the level of measurement transparency that marketers need and require," said ANA President-CEO Bob Liodice in a statement. "Specifically, Facebook metrics are not accredited by the Media Rating Council (MRC); accordingly an audit of Facebook metrics has not been completed."

Mr. Liodice added in the statement that more than $6 billion of marketers' media are being directed to Facebook, which is why it's time for the social network, as well as "other such major media players," be audited and accredited.

"That is the standard of accepted practice that marketers and agencies have relied on for decades," the statement adds.

Last week, Facebook disclosed that the boosted viewing figure came from counting a video as "viewed" if it had been seen for more than three seconds. Not included in the calculation was when a person didn't watch -- or watched for less than three seconds.

Facebook responded to the ANA on Thursday. "We are currently in dialogue with the ANA about how we can work more closely together," the company said in a statement. "Trust and transparency with our partners are paramount to the operation of our company. Our focus has always been on driving business results for our clients, and we strongly believe in third-party verification. We have a history of working with industry leaders including Nielsen, Moat, and comScore -- and we continue to explore more partnerships."

And in a statement last Friday, Facebook said it had moved swiftly to correct the problem. "As soon as we discovered the discrepancy, we fixed it," said David Fischer, Facebook's VP-business and marketing partnerships, in a statement last Friday. "We informed our partners and made sure to put a notice in the product itself so that anyone who went into their dashboard could understand our error."

The ANA conducted a study of its members in late 2015 named "The Critical Need for Accredited Third Party Measurement for Viewability of Digital Advertising," in which it found that 97% of marketers believe that digital media owners should allow their inventory to be measured by a third party.

The study also concluded that "marketers and their agencies should only use third party vendors that have been accredited by the Media Rating Council," according to Mr. Liodice in a statement.

"Fairness, equity, comparability and accountability should be the overriding principles that should govern all parties in the ecosystem," Mr. Liodice said in the statement. "ANA does not believe there are any pragmatic reasons that a media company should not abide by the standards of accreditation and auditing."

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