Google Opens Up YouTube and Ad Platforms for Measurement Audit

Could be a big step in quelling advertisers’ concerns

Google and Facebook are increasingly stepping up their measurement efforts.
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On the heels of Facebook’s decision to undergo an audit by industry watchdog the Media Rating Council, Google has agreed to have its metrics vetted, too.

The Alphabet-owned site is opening up YouTube ad inventory and ad-buying platforms DoubleClick Manager and AdWords that allow for the MRC to track stats including viewability and how long a video was watched. The audit includes three of Google’s biggest third-party metrics companies: Moat, DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science. The audit will examine how the three companies pull their data, including the technology that plugs into YouTube and the methodology used to measure digital metrics. The MRC tapped Ernst & Young to conduct the review.

“The audit will validate that data collection, aggregation and reporting for served video impressions, viewable impressions, related viewability statistics and General Invalid Traffic (GIVT) across desktop and mobile for each integration adheres to MRC and IAB standards,” said Google’s senior director of product management Babak Pahlavan in a blog post.

The move should help add a bit of transparency for advertisers who have increasingly asked for better metrics and insight into their campaigns with Facebook and Google, which receive about 85 cents of every new dollar spent in online advertising. Both Facebook and Google are notorious for being “walled gardens” that do not let measurement companies in and self-report their own metrics.

Facebook has been under particularly high scrutiny with a number of mistakes to its metrics in the past six months. In November, Facebook began revamping some of its metrics and added a blog that focuses specifically on measurement issues.

Getting both Facebook and Google on board with MRC audits could quell marketers’ frustrations as they push for industry-wide standards to grade their campaigns. During a speech at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Annual Leadership last month, Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard said that the brand is reviewing all of its agency relationships this year to create better standards.

“Google’s announcement that they are undertaking an independent audit of their third-party viewability reporting integrations is a positive step forward for marketers—this action from Google today demonstrates their commitment to partnering with us to deliver this goal,” said Bob Liodice, president of CEO of the Association for National Advertisers in a statement.