Facebook has agreed to have its advertising data audited by the Media Rating Council (MRC), in order to prove the numbers it provides are reliable. The network admitted to various calculation errors towards the end of last year, where some of the metrics advertisers saw where inflated.

Facebook was quick to spot the errors and reimburse advertisers who lost out, but the network is keen to prove to advertisers they can trust its metrics, despite the glitches. And it’s hoping a third-party audit by the MRC will give advertisers all the verification they need to feel confident about the data they receive.


Facebook wants to prove it’s reliable

While we don’t have any information on what the audit will involve (the MRC is yet to comment on the audit), the Media Rating Council is the industry’s leading watchdog. Essentially, it’s role is to ensure there’s a consistent and accurate means of collecting and using advertising data across multiple channels.


“Beginning in August 2010 the Media Rating Council (MRC), NCC Media and a large group of Multi-Channel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs) initiated a project to establish greater consistency in capturing, accumulating and processing multi-channel digital video tuning data, and the associated activity, which led to these guidelines.” Media Rating Council guidelines (PDF)


So, if Facebook can get the seal of approval from the MRC, that’s just about the best reassurance it could give advertisers that its data is transparent and reliable. In fairness to Facebook, it’s been very transparent about all this from the start – so this shouldn’t be a major concern for advertisers. It was quick to admit to the errors, which at least proves the network can detect issues quickly and is prepared to put its reputation on the line by coming clean.

What it needs to do now is prove to advertisers that its data glitches were a few isolated incidences and that its means of collecting and delivering data are sound. This is what the MRC audit will be able to determine.


A ‘positive step forward’

Facebook is already getting recognition for its response to last year’s metrics problems. Marc Pritchard, Procter and Gamble’s chief marketer, who has slammed the lack of transparency shown by large tech companies, says Facebook is taking important steps that could help improve the industry as a whole.

“Facebook’s actions on media transparency are a positive step forward, particularly coming from one of the largest media players in the industry,” he said in a statement. He went on to say he hopes the network’s actions “build more momentum to create a clean and productive digital media supply chain.”


Facebook expands third-party verification

In the same blog post Facebook announced the MRC audit, it also revealed it will be expanding third-party verification of its data to help guarantee accuracy. The network now has 24 third-party measurement partners around the world, allowing marketers to work with their preferred vendor.

It’s another positive step forward and we’ll all be keeping an eye out for the MRC’s verdict once it has finished with its audit. In the meantime, we’ll continue to bring you all the latest news, development and advice on Facebook advertising – so be sure to follow us on social media if you aren’t already.