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Facebook to digital ad biz: OK, we'll allow you to mark our homework

Video success numbers will be scrutinized by outside outfit

After successive scandals in which Facebook was found to be diddling its ad numbers, the social network will let a third party vet its stats.

Berlin, Germany-based Meetrics will become the first ad certification company Facebook has worked with in Europe, and will verify whether anyone has actually watched the costly video ads that run across Mark Zuckerberg's network, and if so, how many.

Facebook is keen to clean up its act after big brands have lost patience.

In January Marc Pritchard, Procter and Gamble brands chief, threatened to turn off the spigot of cash that keeps the agencies in business. Pritchard called the digital ad supply chain “complicated, nontransparent, inefficient and fraudulent,” in a speech to the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) in January.

“We’re all wasting way too much time and money on a media supply chain with poor standards adoption, too many players grading their own homework, too many hidden touches, and too many holes to allow criminals to rip us off,” Pritchard said (transcript). Ouch.

Since January, Facebook has announced auditing with partners including comScore, Integral Ad Science and Moat.

The Google and Facebook duopoly controls 65 per cent of the ad market, and more worryingly, 99 per cent of the growth in 2016.

“Everyone else has lost,” according to New York-based venture investor Fred Wilson.

As Fortune notes, the personal data hoards Google and Facebook have slurped from monitoring users – and both combine that with data acquired from other sources – provides a formidable barrier to entry.

If you’re thinking of challenging them with a clever ad technology startup – you may as well not bother. ®

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