ANA calls to break down walled gardens as survey reveals 90% of members favor independent audits

The ANA is calling on more walled gardens to embrace independent audits.

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has called on so-called walled garden digital advertising platforms like Amazon, Foursquare, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat and Twitter to allow independent audits by the Media Rating Council, an organization that says its mission is to “secure for the media industry and related users audience measurement that is valid, reliable and effective.”

The call was made following a survey of ANA members in which almost 90% said they supported independent audits for walled garden platforms.

As such, the ANA said it is “[calling] on these organizations to embrace transparency and ‘break down their walled gardens’ by allowing independent audits by the Media Rating Council.”

According to the ANA report, a walled garden is a platform where the carrier or service provider has control over applications, content and media and restricts access to non-approved applications or content.

In advance of the ANA Media Conference, which took place March 1 to 3, the organization said it asked members for their views on Facebook and YouTube announcing they would allow independent audits, effectively breaking down their own walled gardens. In response, 89% said they viewed the developments as positive for the advertising industry, with 57% rating it “very positive” and 32% rating it “moderately positive.” In addition, 8% were neutral, 3% were “moderately negative” and no one was “very negative.” The ANA said 113 members participated.

“The more transparency we have from vendors on data and performance, the greater advertisers can trust the platform,” one “very positive” respondent said.

Another said consistency in metrics would help develop holistic plans that cross multiple platforms.

Google’s audit seeking MRC accreditation of its third party viewability integrations for YouTube is expected to be completed “within a couple of months,” the ANA said. However, it noted the timing and details of Facebook’s plans for a Media Rating Council audit are still pending.

“The ANA applauds the recent announcements of Facebook and YouTube,” the ANA said. “We would appreciate both companies keeping the marketing community fully informed of their plans and timetables.”

Meanwhile, the ANA said other large digital enterprises like Amazon, Foursquare, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat and Twitter have not yet undergone or announced support for Media Rating Council audits and it therefore calls on these organizations to allow said audits.

“In an era of concerns about transparency in the advertising supply chain, independent audits of the large digital enterprises by the MRC are very positive developments,” the ANA said. “Furthermore, it’s clear from the ANA survey that there is overwhelming support from client-side marketers for independent audits by the Media Rating Council.”

In a statement, Foursquare President Steven Rosenblatt said, "What’s being addressed here are two issues: one is accrediting of advertising within our apps. Unlike some platforms, we allow for third party tracking and measurement and work with companies like [analytics firm] Moat and other third party vendors who are MRC accredited.”

In addition, Rosenblatt said criteria and guidelines are still being developed for the accreditation of location data.

“Through our leadership and involvement with the [Mobile Marketing Association], Foursquare contributed ideas and best practices around geolocation and will continue to do so,” he added.