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Facebook Viewability

Facebook to let brands buy 100% in-view ads as it offers third-party verification on views

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By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

September 17, 2015 | 3 min read

Advertisers can now buy Facebook ads that are 100 per cent in view and is also introducing the ability to measure the performance of video ads independently thanks to a tie-up with analytics firm Moat.

The tech-giant announced the update to its ad buying options today, less than 24 hours after WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell called it out for its “ludicrous” viewability standards.

Sorrell's comments are reflective of wider industry concern for marketers and publishers all trying to reign in paying for ads that people don’t see.

Currently, Facebook counts an impression as any portion of the video playing on the screen for three seconds or more, including those that play in silent (of which some 50 per cent do). However, some advertisers have the option to choose whether to pay for a placement only if the video ad has been viewed for 10 seconds or more.

To abate concern, the new ad buying option lets advertisers purchase 100 per cent in-view impressions, meaning the whole ad has to be on the user’s screen.

It puts a stake in the ground when it comes to the viewability debate. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) last year said 100 per cent viewable ads were “not yet a possibility”. It currently defines a viewable online video ad to be 50 per cent of it in view for at least one second.

“While it remains our belief that value is created for an advertiser as soon as an ad is in view, we also believe in offering advertisers control and flexibility over how they run their ads,” explained Facebook in a blog post.

The new buying option will be available for every type of ad delivered in News Feed, including text, photo, link and video ads.

With transparency another hot topic, Facebook has brought in an independent third-party to measure viewability rates.

It is working with Moat, which will be integrated by Facebook, to verify video ad views and view lengths. In time, the partnership will scale to include all other types of News Feed ads, including 100 per cent in-view impressions, and the Instagram platform.

Facebook called in Unilever's marketing boss Keith Weed – who has long campaigned for online platforms to improve viewability to the 100 per cent mark and get it verified independently – to applaud its efforts. Weed took matters into his own hands last year when he helped broker a deal between Unilever and WPP's Group that sees it buy media that's only 100 per cent in view.

Weed said Facebook’s offering is “very encouraging”.

“Our hope is that these steps will lead ultimately to 100 per cent viewability through third party verification across the industry.”

The move gives further credence to Facebook’s recent claims that it’s open to third-party verification and is not a closed eco-system. In an interview with The Drum, the social network’s vice president of advertising technology Brian Boland said it was protecting peoples’ data by being careful with how much it shared.

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