On November 27th the Media Ratings Council announced that Facebook took the first, and potentially biggest, step toward accredited third-party measurement of viewability by meeting the Minimum Standards for Media Ratings Research for the Facebook controlled portion of the MRC’s assessment. This announcement came after an audit of Facebook’s and Instagram’s data collection and processing systems as part of viewability pipeline integrations with third-party viewability data providers; Integral Ad Science (IAS), DoubleVerify and Moat. The next steps in the process will be to audit the third-party vendors portion of the data collection (which all three have agreed to). Only after those audits, will Facebook then be fully accredited.
After numerous admissions of misreporting ad metrics and demands by many of its largest advertisers over the past few years, Facebook agreed to the audit. While the results of the MRC audit are definitely a step in the right direction towards greater accuracy of their advertising metrics, this is in no way related to the more recent scrutiny of Facebook and its handling of its consumer data as highlighted by the Russia and Cambridge Analytica scandal.
To note, this Facebook data audit did not include invalid or fraudulent traffic, but as the third-party vendors are auditing, “Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT)” will also be assessed. If Facebook can be fully accredited, it will be a landmark for advertising standards and they’ll have an opportunity to be at the forefront of addressing and solving this industry-wide problem. [There has been no timeline given for when the MRC expects to fully complete their assessments of the third-party vendors. While Facebook may be the first to get the coveted MRC approval, Google also has recently announced that they are in the middle of the same process. Other platforms under similar scrutiny over viewability will hopefully follow the two behemoths’ lead.
This is as a big step towards gaining back the trust of the advertising community. While iProspect has not seen any significant decreases in advertising spend on Facebook-owned properties by our clients, it has led to trepidation about the future and partnership commitments. By completing this step of the accreditation process, it at least increases faith in the data that Facebook is providing to their advertisers, specifically around viewability.