Facebook invited three new third-party ad verification partners into its inner sanctum on Tuesday – further evidence that what the buy side demands, the buy side gets.
Integral Ad Science, comScore and Nielsen will now be able to verify viewability and attention metrics for display and video ads on Facebook, including mobile web and in-app.
The additions represent an expansion of Facebook’s existing third-party verification program. Facebook gave the first key to its walled garden to Moat in September.
Less than a year ago, Facebook was happily guarding its own henhouse, and agencies were less than pleased. GroupM was particularly vocal about Facebook’s seeming reluctance to bring on independent measurement partners.
John Montgomery, chairman of GroupM Connect, North America (then COO of GroupM Interaction), rebuked Facebook onstage at AdExchanger’s Clean Ads I/O conference in June: “It’s not good governance to measure yourself.”
Arguably, Facebook and Google would rather not have to rely on third parties, but advertisers are clearly demanding it.
But Scott Knoll, CEO and president of Integral Ad Science, sees this more as a “deliberate move” on Facebook’s part rather than “reactionary.”
“There is no question that Facebook has spent a lot of time over the last six months talking to advertisers to get a sense of the technologies they want to use,” Knoll said. “In the end, we’re all striving to have consistent measurement across all inventory wherever it is and everyone is starting to work together to standardize.”
But news feed environments like Facebook defy full standardization, at least for the moment. What does viewability mean if users can scroll through swaths of content in a single swipe?
The mobile viewability standards being circulated by the Media Rating Council have a placeholder around the question of how to handle viewability in the news feed as the MRC works with publishers to figure out if it should be subject to different time thresholds.
“The way we run on most web, video and display content is standardized because there’s been third-party measurement there for a decade and a half,” Knoll said. “With Facebook, it might take a more custom-type application, but the end result and the end goal will be exactly the same.”
Overall, it’s “a step in the right direction” and representative of an industry trend around more platforms opening themselves up to third-party verification, Knoll said.
In November, Google approved Moat, IAS, comScore and DoubleVerify to track campaigns on YouTube, and in June the same crowd of viewability vendors got the green light from Yahoo to bring third-party tagging to its O&O and network sites (what remains of them).
Facebook and Google in particular “recognize that they have premium inventory and that there’s no reason not to work with a company like us to shine a light on that,” Knoll said. “It’s better for the industry is there’s consistent measurement across all inventory, and in the end it’s great for them because it highlights the quality of their content and their audience which could lead to more ad dollars.”