The unnerving revelations that Facebook has been miscalculating figures within its viewability reporting for two years recently shocked the industry, taking the gloss off the platform’s “year of video”. But we think this cloud could have a silver-lining.
The industry has seen a lot of opinion cast surrounding the news, with commentary citing the lack of accountability for vendors’ own reporting statistics, a lack of governing body control, an error of responsibility from Facebook and, essentially, a lack of trust. How could we have ended up in the position where Facebook has been misrepresenting their figures for two years without knowledge – or even worse, without question?
While this is undoubtedly a concern, it’s all too easy for us as an industry – having already seen complaints around fraud, viewability and ad-blocking – to jump on the bandwagon and call out failings on all sides. Given the nature of reporting across digital platforms and a lack of historic uniformed control beyond ad-servers with their limited functionality, this type of situation was always on the cards.
Perhaps, for once, we should look at things from a different angle.
For the first time, digital media professionals can assess the full-spectrum of the ecosystem (with very few exceptions) and hold it accountable without the reliance on vendor owned/reported statistics. This is a very recent change made possible by the global power-houses Facebook and Google, showing the level of responsibility it owes to its advertisers to allow third-party assessment of its inventory. This is a huge step-change and a genuinely exciting time to be able to make better planning choices and understand real performance.
The problem with Facebook’s own statistics is likely to have been exposed with the introductions of third party integrations with its platform, with the likes of IAS and Moat among the first technology companies granted the luxury of verifying delivery in the previously-hidden platform. Thankfully, Facebook’s error, has now been corrected with its openness to third party verification and integrations – about time, many will argue.
The real winners here are the verification companies who will hold suppliers hostage; accountable to their own methodologies. However, at least to some degree, we can put stakes in the ground and compare in a fair manner when it comes to assessing quality – particularly in digital video, where we’ve had access to the least amount of insight to date. We should be excited to see what this looks like through the eyes of these tech-partners.
Despite the negative headlines, there’s a lot of learnings. This recent hiccup regarding Facebook’s reporting should serve to encourage a greater uptake of verification across the board, not just within the social network. Those advertisers, agencies and technology partners who’ve been pushing to get to a place where we can begin this journey should be proud to have seen us to such a place, and pleased that the path to enlightenment is more navigable now than it’s ever been.