Is YouTube Cooking the Books? Third-Party Auditor Steps In

Is YouTube Cooking the Books? Third-Party Auditor Steps In
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Is YouTube Cooking the Books? Third-Party Auditor Steps In
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Andy Roberts (CC by 2.0)

When a YouTube video reaches 1 billion views, are these numbers true? Will advertisers get paid the right amount? MRC aims to find out.

In 2015, Digital Music News questioned Facebook’s video metrics. Ari Herstand wrote that Facebook only counted 3 seconds as counted. Last year, the company came clean. The social media giant overstated video data to Publicis Media by as much as 80%. This led David Fischer, Vice President of Business and Marketing Partnerships to issue an apology. He wrote,

“But [the video count metric] didn’t – it reflected the total time spent watching a video divided by only the number of “views” of a video (that is, when the video was watched for three or more seconds).”

YouTube has faced similar accusations. Over the past few years, the Google-owned company has sold their platform to advertisers. It promises that ads on the video streaming platform will reliably find their way to young audiences. Yet, ad companies have questioned the metrics Google and Facebook have used, and have pushed both companies for more transparency. Google has also never allowed an audit to check their third-party metrics. Now, following Facebook’s announcement of their own ad auditing, Google has agreed to open up their third-party metrics.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Google announced that the Media Rating Council, or MRC, will audit YouTube’s third-party measurement partners. In the past, MRC has audited Google’s ad-serving and search functions, yet the search giant never opened their video platform for auditing. Moat, Integral Ad Science, and DoubleVerify will undergo “a strict, independent audit” for MRC accreditation. The three independent companies collect data and measure whether video ads are viewable on the platform. The search giant wrote,

“The audit will validate that data collection, aggregation and reporting for served video impressions, viewable impressions, related viewability statistics and General Invalid Traffic (GIVT) across desktop and mobile for each integration adheres to MRC and IAB standards. In short, advertisers will have even greater confidence in the metrics returned by these third party partners about their campaigns on YouTube.”

Speaking with AdExchanger, George Ivie, MRC CEO and Executive Director said,

“This will be a first-time audit for YouTube metrics and it will constitute an end-to-end verification of these processes.”

The search giant has already gained accreditation from MRC. DoubleClick is already accredited. The company wrote,

We currently maintain over 30 MRC accreditations across display and video, desktop and mobile web, mobile apps, and clicks, plays, impressions and viewability.

Google hopes that with the new MRC audit, more advertisers will trust in YouTube’s metrics. The company is preparing to give its annual Brandcast pitch to advertisers in New York on May 4. The MRC audit may boost the video platform’s position over Facebook.