Back in November 2016, Facebook discovered several errors that led to misreported numbers. These miscalculations included an inflation of numbers in organic reach, video views, and Instant Article data. While admitting to the bugs, the social media giant also announced that it would undergo an audit by the Media Rating Council to reevaluate its analytics and the data gathering processes. The MRC is an organization that analyzes audience measurement data to ensure that it is reliable and meets industry standards. Following Facebook’s announcement, Google also decided to have the council audit its array of services and analytic tools.
That means the data both companies gather and present are now under close reevaluation.
This is good news for advertisers and marketers. The desire for transparency and better understanding of the metrics has been a recent topic of conversation. In fact, P&G made a statement earlier this year to explain the need for industry standards. Both Facebook and Google have been adamant about reporting their own data and sticking to what the data represents. However, we could be seeing an increase in more conventional standards for measuring the success of digital and social ad campaigns.
For Facebook, only four of its products had produced miscalculations. Facebook offers a total of 220 products, but the ones affected were Page Insights, Instant Articles, Analytics for Apps, and Video. Many of the miscalculations reported showed an inflation of numbers. With the audit, there is potential to see metrics that are compliant with MRC standards. Facebook hopes this will create less confusion when determining campaign success and open channels of communication between them and their advertisers.
Google’s audit is less about potential bugs and more about building trust and creating openness between marketers and the company. Since 2015, Google has introduced ways to monitor its multitude of services, including YouTube. These third-party monitoring tools will also be reevaluated to meet universal standards of measurement. The hope is that this audit will solidify reporting and provide data that is trustworthy, so marketers and advertisers can make decisions based on data that is universally understood.
Our Wpromote experts feel these audits are a win-win for all parties. Before the audits, what marketers perceived and what Google and Facebook perceived had a high probability of being different. This could’ve led to bloated metrics, devalued campaigns, and lost revenue opportunities. The self-requested audits will hopefully lead to necessary use of verified third-party tools such as DoubleClick as well. With MRC standards taking a front-row seat, we’re curious to see how brands follow the wave.
“As investment in digital advertising is projected to outpace TV in 2017, it’s natural for advertisers to scrutinize self-reported metrics from the major platforms, and focus on the need for third party verification. Beyond Google and Facebook, however, there are still many platforms that may have questionable data validity, and it’s up to us, as advertisers, to push for increased transparency and support for 3rd party tracking solutions,” said Simon Poulton, Director of Digital Intelligence at Wpromote.
It seems Facebook and Google are veering away from keeping reporting methods behind closed doors and choosing to meet marketers and advertisers halfway. So, what do you think? Is this a step toward reliable and consistent data? How do you think data is going to change post-audit? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or excited, we should talk. Wpromote is The Challenger Agency, and we can help you navigate through this ever-changing industry. We want to guide you to the top of your industry’s Everest and help you stay there. So, if you’re ready for the challenge that will come once these audits are complete, let us know.