The ANA Is Urging 7 Major Ad Platforms to Allow Independent Auditing, and Most Seem to Be on Board

Instagram, Twitter and more say they support transparency

Several major digital platforms were put on notice.
Sources: Getty Images, FourSquare, Twitter, Snapchat, Amazon, Pinterest

The Association of National Advertisers today called out seven of the world’s biggest ad platforms, saying they should open themselves to independent auditing of ad campaigns. That doesn’t appear to be a hard sell, given that five of the seven have already expressed varying levels of support for the move.

Specifically, the ANA, an industry group representing brand marketers, asked Amazon, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Foursquare to begin allowing for independent auditing from the Media Rating Council (MRC) for ad campaigns on their platforms. The development comes on the heels of Facebook and Google/YouTube committing to using the MRC.

Adweek reached out to the seven companies put on notice by the ANA. Snap Inc., the parent of Snapchat, declined comment, and Amazon has yet to respond.

But spokespeople for Twitter and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, said their platforms are already making progress with the MRC.

“Both Facebook and Instagram are committed to the MRC audit,” a Facebook rep said via email while pointing to the company’s recent blog post on the matter. 

And a Twitter spokesperson said, “As members of the MRC, we’re consistently having conversations about how we and our peers can improve transparency and reporting.”

Pinterest, LinkedIn and Foursquare, meanwhile, issued statements that appear to suggest a willingness to comply with what the ANA desires.

“We fundamentally believe in a third-party measurement and validation ecosystem,” a rep for Pinterest said via email. “We are in conversations with the MRC and auditors, but our current focus is adding more measurement partners such as Moat, [which] recently joined our Marketing Partners program. Our advertisers and agency partners are supportive of this approach and prioritization. We do believe we will conduct audits in the future and are committed to third-party measurement. At this point, we do not have a timing to share regarding audits.”

A LinkedIn spokesperson responded: “We welcome a meeting with the MRC to discuss our practices and learn more about their perspective.  As always, we are committed to creating the best possible experience that will deliver on the needs of both our members and customers.”  

Steven Rosenblatt, Foursquare president, said: “What’s being addressed here are two issues: one is accrediting of advertising within our apps. Unlike some platforms, we allow for third-party tracking and measurement and work with companies like Moat and other third-party vendors [which] are MRC accredited. In regards to the accreditation of location data, these criteria and guidelines are still being developed. Through our leadership and involvement with the [Mobile Marketing Association], Foursquare contributed ideas and best practices around geolocation and will continue to do so.”

The ANA, which represents big-spending advertisers, surveyed several dozens of its members and found that 89 percent of them supported audits of the platforms, which are often referred to as “walled gardens” in the industry.

“The ANA applauds the recent announcements of Facebook and YouTube,” the company wrote in a document sent to its members. “We would appreciate both companies keeping the marketing community fully informed of their plans and timetables.”