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Facebook Just Made 2 Big Changes to Appease Advertisers on Viewability

Offers premium option and third-party verification

Facebook now lets brands pay for ads only once they've been seen fully on screen. Getty Images: Photo Illustration by Dianna McDougall

Brands have long lamented the possibility that Internet users don't actually see the ads they pay for. Well, Facebook today introduced a premium buying choice that should quell some of that unease, offering marketers the option to pay for ads only when the entire unit appears on a viewer's screen. 

Until this change, advertisers were charged as soon as any piece of an ad appeared on a Facebook user's screen. Now they will have the option to require full visibility before being charged at a higher per-view rate (which hasn't yet been announced).

The development is part of a two-tiered announcement today by the Menlo Park, Calif.-based tech giant, which also revealed that it has tapped digital-measurement company Moat to check how often advertisers' promos are seen on Facebook. While Moat is among several viewability-focused vendors that are accredited by the Media Ratings Council, inking this deal—which likely involves considerable sums of money in the near future—with Facebook appears to be the latest sign that Moat is leading its niche. 

What's more, Facebook is reversing its stance against using an independent verifier for ad viewability. The move appears to be largely in response to huge companies like Unilever, Kellogg's and WPP banging the drum for better measurement tools in not only recent years but recent hours. Just yesterday, WPP chief Martin Sorrell called out Facebook's viewability standards while speaking at Dmexco in Cologne, Germany.

"Three seconds—and 50 percent of video online not listened to with sound—is ludicrous," Sorrell said, while delivering the conference's keynote address. "The standards have to change."

Rob Norman, chief digital officer at WPP-owned GroupM Worldwide, said in a statement on Thursday: "What we want is quite simple: Ads that are actually seen by real people. We want viewability standards across clients and publishers that honor that position, and we want publishers to be held accountable by independent third-parties. We're very encouraged that Facebook is partnering with Moat as a third-party verified solution." 

Moving forward, the new, full-view buying option will soon be available for promos seen in Facebook newsfeeds, including text, photo, link ads and video. With the social-media platform's burgeoning video business that's attracted big consumer brands and Hollywood marketers, it stands to reason that the buying option will be most popular with deep-pocketed ad players focused on 15- and 30-second clips. 

With the new option, there are now three ways advertisers can pay for Facebook video promos. The other two selections entail video ads that are basically charged instantly upon a partial view as well as those that are charged after a viewer has watched 10 seconds.

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