Media buyers: 'Facebook reporting glitches will continue until it opens up to verification'

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 18 May 2017
Facebook F8

Facebook's latest misreporting glitch has had a “negligible” financial impact for most advertisers but has further intensified calls to open up more of its data to independent third party scrutiny.

AdNews estimates the scale of the make goods to advertisers across all of the major holding groups would be less than $500,000, with the highest case in the thousands of dollars.

To put that into context, a TV network having a bad month of ratings could reimburse clients up to $200,000 in make goods, although this would be due to underperformance rather than misreporting.

Many advertisers on Facebook are unaffected by the glitch because it only affected smartphone mobile web video carousel ads.

Media buyers applauded Facebook's efforts to quickly own the problem and manage the expectations of agencies and advertisers.

However, they warn the problem will keep occurring as long as third-party measurement companies are not able to independently verify metrics beyond clicks and impressions.

“They pre-mitigated the issue and managed expectations because they knew this was going to create another shitstorm so to give them credit they managed that well,” Maxus chief investment officer Ricky Channa tells AdNews.

“This is another nail in the coffin that you cannot mark your own homework. You need to have an independent industry third party measurement because things like this will continue to happen.”

PHD chief digital officer Stuart Bailey agreed, adding that the “strength of their platform and offering is not in doubt, but the latest issue does highlight the fact that third party oversight is crucial”.

“We understand the sensitivity that Facebook have around their data and their users personal information and respect that.

“That being said they are a business that make their revenue from advertising dollars and as such they need to be held accountable that those dollars are spent in the right way.

“As a partner of Facebook we are working globally and locally to accelerate this process and find solutions to these issues for our clients and the wider industry.”

Carat chief investment officer Ashley Earnshaw tells AdNews the agency is reaching out to clients to share the facts and gather feedback on the issue – it’s too early to gauge how the market will react

He agrees that Facebook has been proactive and is making an effort to be more transparent with clients, doesn't believe there is any malice behind the overstated ad metrics.

However, the issue could feed into wider market distrust about digital and investing in these platforms, at a time when the industry is looking to build better trust with advertisers.

“This challenges for Facebook could continue all year because as they allow further third party verification on their platform and scrutiny. Every platform should be judged equally and come under the same level of scrutiny. We will continue to work with them on behalf of our clients to build better trust in digital investment.”

Facebook doesn't allow third party ad servers to serve video through their platform. You can only send Facebook click and impression tags that only tracks how many ad impressions that are served and clicks.

Other digital media platforms allow video ad serving template (VAST) or Vpaid ad tags to track far more granular measures about the impact of ads from a third-party ad server.

These allow marketers to pick up metrics on deeper engagement, full screen views, play, pause, how many people did or didn't watch completion rates.

“Delivery is one thing, knowing the number impressions but whats more important are metrics around what those impressions actually deliver to you,” Channa explains.

“With VAST and Vpaid, you get that externally from ad server. With Facebook you have to go into their system to pull all of those deeper level metrics.”

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