ANA demands greater transparency on Facebook metrics, local players agree

Facebook found itself in hot water a few days ago because of its inflated video metrics.The company apologised for miscalculating its viewership and admitted that it overstated average video view times by between 60-80%.

Since then, The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has prompted Facebook to reveal its metrics in a bid to help marketers better measure their ads on social media.

Addressing the need for such a disclosure, ANA CEO Bob Liodice on the company’s blog said, “While ANA recognises that mistakes do happen, we also recognise that Facebook has not yet achieved the level of measurement transparency that marketers need and require.”

He went on to point out that with more than US$6 billion of marketers’ media being directed to Facebook, it is time for the social media giant – and other such major media players – to be audited and accredited. He said:

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

In the backdrop of this crucial situation where marketers all across the globe seem to be affected in one way or the other, Marketing spoke to a few industry players to gauge the response ANA’s demand has generated.

In agreement with Liodice’s opinion on the fact Facebook’s metrics must be audited, as it is a dominant player in the social media arena is Ryan Lim, Founder of QED Consulting. He explained that legal and ethical measures form the core of this need for disclosure.He added:

While legally Facebook may choose not to put the data out on the public platform, there needs to be some form of liquidity on the ethical front. Without this marketers can be easily misguided.

Another digital agency lead who spoke to Marketing on grounds on anonymity strongly suggested that there needs to be a common unit of measurement across all public platforms.

"Marketers need something concrete so as to not be conned in their spends. With the issue of inflation of video views coming forth, it is a tough time for marketers,” he said.

Meanwhile Phil Townend chief commercial officer, Unruly APAC agreed that an audit must be demanded so that the historic data can be recalculated to enable marketers to make better decisions about future investment levels - and be aware of Facebook’s return on investment.

"Trillions of paid advertiser views globally have been the subject to miscalculation of some form. If a user has spent 60-80% less time on an ad as against what the agencies have calculated, multi-million dollar planned media investments can been skewed in a big way,” explained Phil Townend chief commercial officer, Unruly APAC.

He added that when any player, such as Facebook, has a distortive level of scale/ power, usual rules of engagement do not apply.

Look beyond just views

Townend added but this could possibly have a silver lining which is that hopefully it could possibly prompt clients to look beyond the view and measure video effectiveness based on meaningful metrics. He added that for too long  brands have been fixated on vanity metrics such as view counters rather than looking at the actual quality of the view and how it is performing against brand metrics and ROI.

“Cheap cost per reach is also a bit of a misleading metric because if at a view is counted at three seconds and the brand isn't revealed until much later, that's cost per wastage.  Why spend all that money on production if a user only sees a fragment of the video ad?" he questioned.

He added that brands can now consider reaching audiences across a much broader range of premium environments, where third party tracking is standard and audiences are deeply engaged.