ANA Officially Pissed at Facebook, Calls for an Audit

By Patrick Coffee 

The ANA may not agree with the 4A’s on media transparency measures, but pretty much everyone in the ad industry is united in being super pissed at Mark Zuckerberg right now.

Today ANA president and CEO Bob Liodice called for an audit of the social network in a post on the organization’s blog related to the inflated video viewership numbers story broken by the Wall Street Journal.

He calls that the report “troubling” in the post: “While ANA recognizes that ‘mistakes do happen,’ we also recognize that Facebook has not yet achieved the level of measurement transparency that marketers need and require.”

On the call for an audit:

“Specifically, Facebook metrics are not accredited by the Media Rating Council (MRC); accordingly an audit of Facebook metrics has not been completed. With more than $6 billion of marketers’ media being directed to Facebook, we believe that it is time for them – and other such major media players – to be audited and accredited. That is the standard of accepted practice that marketers and agencies have relied on for decades.”

Liodice essentially calls for Facebook to be judged by the same standards as every other media company without specifying as to how, exactly, the ad industry will make that happen.

Facebook is using Advertising Week as an “apology tour” or damage control exercise, and one of the key takeaways is that Sheryl Sandberg and others have “downplayed the significance of the error” while suggesting that maybe the ad industry needs to do a better job with its own metrics. At an event this week, Sandberg said, “There is very universal agreement that the industry needs to evolve to metrics that matter.”

Liodice’s blog post concludes, “ANA does not believe there are any pragmatic reasons that a media company should not abide by the standards of accreditation and auditing.” But Facebook has the power in this relationship, and you don’t.

A Facebook spokesperson issued the following statement after the ANA post went live:

“We are currently in dialogue with the ANA about how we can work more closely together. Trust and transparency with our partners are paramount to the operation of our company. Our focus has always been on driving business results for our clients, and we strongly believe in third-party verification. We have a history of working with industry leaders including Nielsen, Moat, and comScore – and we continue to explore more partnerships.”

To make a completely inappropriate comparison, the company is a bit like Donald Trump. Why should they release their data just because everyone else has done it since forever, especially when no one cares?

A vast majority of relevant parties do care, but you can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forty percent of all people know that.