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Facebook’s Measurement Snafu Raises The Need For Unbiased Verification

By on May 18, 2017

Originally written by Tobi Elkin of MediaPost.

As advertisers are demanding more transparency from their technology and media partners, including transparency on how digital media is measured, Facebook’s metrics snafus continue to mount.

This week, the social media giant issued another mea culpa, and said it is offering refunds to advertisers after finding a bug that led it to overstate the number of clicks to marketers’ Web sites.

Facebook said the overstatement was minor (0.04% of impressions were impacted). The problem was triggered when consumers visited sites via mobile browsers and clicked on Facebook’s “video carousel” ad formats to make them bigger. The clicks were apparently logged as Web site clicks.

Facebook says the bug caused marketers to pay for ads that resulted in clicks to their Web sites.

One ad-tech executive expressed approval for how Facebook is handling the issue: “The difference between this and what happens on the open Web is, Facebook is policing itself and being open and transparent with its partners. It’s taking fraud, viewability, and transparency very seriously,” Jason Beckerman, CEO, Unified, told Real-Time Daily via email.

However, David Yovanno, CEO Impact Radius, took a contrarian view: “Facebook and other large publishers are starting to open up, but need to be more transparent, quite frankly. I think this is especially paramount for Facebook, which underscores transparency as a core value. If Facebook was to partner and integrate with independent ad verification and measurement companies, I believe overall ad quality will increase significantly for buyers, leading to a more transparent and vibrant ecosystem for brands.”

On the whole, Yovanno told Real-Time Daily via email that he thinks “Facebook’s recent metrics issues, along with YouTube’s recent incident, continues to underscore the need for brands and their agencies to rely on an unbiased system of record for their marketing data and analytics, which includes verification.”

He took Facebook and other so-called “walled gardens” to task, noting that while they have done a good job in evolving their ad management stacks, “no matter how capable their platforms are, it simply doesn’t make sense for the same company to ‘write the test, take the test, and then grade the test.’ I think the overall response highlights a critical need in the industry for independent ad verification and measurement.”