The Google-owned social video giant YouTube has announced it will undergo independent, third-party verification audits to overhaul viewability measurements for advertisers and promote industry transparency.  

The news came shortly after Facebook undertook similar measures following a series of viewability figure errors last year.

However, these moves by the world’s two largest ad techs will also be a conscientious response to P&G’s damning statements regarding transparency in the media supply chain, calling it “murky at best, fraudulent at worst”.

Rebuilding trust

Placing verification in the hands of the Media Ratings Council (MRC), YouTube is looking to rebuild advertisers’ trust, while diversifying the metrics it provides its advertisers in line with the release of new ad-buying options, helping advertisers to better manage budgets.

The MRC will investigate the practices of three third-party measurement companies integrated with the social video site – MOAT, DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science, focusing particularly on tech implementation, data collection, viewable impressions and related statistics.

The accreditation aims to provide advertisers with more confidence in metrics and their campaigns on YouTube. Such display of commitment to improving measurements has been called for by the industry, with ad fraud continuing to pose a threat to budgets as the estimated $7.2 billion globally was lost to the fraud last year alone.

Under scrutiny

It’s not just media that Google has committed to the programme; ads bought via AdWords and DoubleClick Bid Manager will be also audited. This will affect all video available through these buying platforms, including YouTube and partner inventory.

Bob Liodice, president and CEO of the Association for National Advertisers (ANA) in the US, called the move a “step forward” for marketers, and progress towards the ANA’s goal of creating full transparency for the advertising supply chain.

“This action from Google today [February 21] demonstrates their commitment to partnering with us to deliver this goal,” he commented.

YouTube’s statement yesterday forms part of a larger story, with the online ad industry being held accountable for key failings, and advertisers’ loss of trust being placed on the global stage as household brands demonstrate their concerns.

Alongside YouTube and Facebook’s announcements, the programmatic advertising industry has taken heavy fire for automatically serving ads on inappropriate sites.