A big part of the way Facebook aims to prove its ads are viewable has just taken a giant step forward. The Media Rating Council (MRC), the industry standard keeper for media measurement, has signed off on Facebook’s process for providing data to third parties for verification.

The MRC has been reviewing how Facebook and Instagram handle data that it passes to its third-party vendors and how those vendors ultimately report on its viewability.

MRC has yet to grant accreditation to the second part of the process — which is handled by the third-party verification companies after Facebook hands over the data — but, according to a press release (PDF) announcing the news, Moat, Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify have agreed to let the MRC audit their portion of the process, as well.

MRC’s audit process.

Why it matters

Viewability continues to be a hot topic, as advertisers yearn for standards and accountability. And after a tumultuous year, Facebook is pining for some good news.

MRC accreditation is far from a sure thing. While Facebook won accreditation for its impressions metric in April, some ad tech companies in recent months have lost a portion or all of their accreditations under MRC scrutiny, including AppNexus who withdrew from the process entirely.

While MRC’s earlier metric accreditation for Facebook concerned the impressions served, this one validates the mechanism, or Pipeline, that Facebook uses to allow third parties to report on viewability and other metrics.

There was a fair amount of glad-handing in the wake of the news.

MRC’s Executive Director and CEO George W. Ivie said, “The conclusion of this stage of our work represents a substantial milestone in MRC’s accreditation consideration of the Facebook viewability pipeline measurement process. We commend Facebook for the substantial efforts it has put forward to successfully get us to this point, which clearly demonstrate its support of and commitment to measurement that’s in accord with industry standards for quality.”

To which Brad Smallwood, VP of marketing science at Facebook said: “We share the MRC’s commitment to responsible measurement and look forward to continuing our audit work with them.”

Facebook could certainly use the MRC stamp of approval on its metrics, as its history of errors in measurement has harmed its reputation among marketers. Withstanding the audit process should go some way toward repairing that breach of trust.

More on the news

  • In March, Google said it supports 30 MRC standards for clicks, impressions, viewability and more, and was currently working on getting certification for 40 more.
  • The MRC is a US-based nonprofit organization that reviews audience measurement services and manages accreditation for media research and rating purposes.

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