Facebook has announced that it’s partnering with Nielsen to provide advertisers with a combined measurement of brand lift for campaigns that run across both Facebook and TV. That provides a consistent set of metrics for advertisers that use both platforms, but more importantly it puts a big dent in the idea that Facebook and TV are at war, a narrative the media seems keen to perpetuate but which Facebook itself has repeatedly downplayed. While it’s certainly the case that Facebook is chasing some of the same ad dollars as TV, and Facebook has even made the case that TV ads are less effective than Facebook ads, it’s also pushed back against the idea that it’s trying to kill TV advertising. This partnership suggests that Facebook is realistic about the fact that most advertisers are going to continue to run ads both online (including on its platform) and on TV, and that it can best support those advertisers by making it easier to measure the performance of campaigns in both media. It’s also making the argument that campaigns that run in this way actually see better results than those which only run in one place.
I’ve been watching the news from the recent TV upfronts and waiting for the definitive article that summarizes what’s been said and done, and while I’m not convinced this is it, it does a good job of characterizing the basic trends at issue. The two big underlying trends are the continuing decline of live linear viewing of traditional TV and the massive growth of online advertising, which could be presumed to have put an enormous dent in TV ad spending but actually haven’t. However, the TV companies still see online advertising platforms as a big threat, and spent an unusual amount of time during the upfronts trashing Facebook and Google (though mostly not by name) while talking up their own massive reach. At the same time, though, these companies are increasingly mimicking the very same things that make Facebook and Google’s ad platforms attractive: detailed targeting of ads and tracking of what happens after viewers see them. At the same time, the TV networks seem somewhat lost on the content side, rebooting old shows and formats, latching onto new gimmicks like live musicals, and generally showing a lack of imagination in protecting and rejuvenating their brands. Meanwhile, the strongest audiences on traditional TV are live sports fans and older generations watching procedural franchises like CSI and NCIS. And of course the big online platforms are investing in lots of both traditional sports content and some new formats of their own. Therefore, though each side would like to paint itself as providing unique value, the two are increasing converging on a similar set of content and ad capabilities, while the audience continues to shift from traditional linear TV to a host of online and streaming alternatives, which will inevitably pull ad dollars that way too.
via LA Times
Facebook Announces Yet Another Measurement Screwup (May 16, 2017)
Snapchat Now Offers Online-to-Offline Tracking for Ads (Apr 12, 2017)
This is yet another bit of damage control by Facebook in the wake of its metrics problems in late 2016, and the MRC partnership has been in the works for some time (see the full timeline on the “Facebook’s Bad Metrics” narrative page). It sounds like marketers are reassured by some of these moves, which combine better third party auditing with some new video ad buying options.
Facebook said all the way back in November that it intended to form a measurement council to improve external oversight of its metrics and reporting. This is one of the first concrete signs that it’s moving towards better outside auditing, though it’s not an announced deal yet.
Facebook and not Twitter has mostly been in the news for misstating its metrics, but it’s clear that the latter isn’t immune. Although Facebook’s confessions have been embarrassing, it hasn’t had to refund advertisers, but it appears Twitter has, though only over a brief period due to a technical glitch.
Facebook Overestimated Key Video Metric for Two Years – WSJ (Sep 22, 2016)
This was the first of a number of stories in late 2016 relating to Facebook’s metrics for advertisers and publishers. At the time, it looked like an isolated incident, but it was bad enough to attract attention even so – Facebook vastly overestimated average viewing time for videos for two full years, and only disclosed this fact through an article on its Advertiser Help Center. Once the story broke, Facebook publicly apologized.