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YouTube is a media powerhouse. The popular video site reaches billions of people, and its users stream hundreds of millions of hours of videos. Trying to audit advertising metrics on the website is obviously a challenging task.

However, given growing pressure for social media and other popular sites to allow independent third-party verification of their self-reported advertising data, Google has committed to integrate new auditing procedures into its video-sharing website within the next few months. Google also will partner with the Media Rating Council (MRC) and allow it to conduct independent audits on the way Goggle’s three data collection firms currently gather data about how advertisements are accessed and viewed. Finally, Google will work with the MRC to audit data for ads purchased on non-Google sites, though the company not outlined the timeline needed for such integration.

Google’s move comes only a few weeks after Facebook caved to external pressures from advertisers to verify that the company’s metrics, used to measure advertising data, were fair and accurate. Both companies previously collected and self-reported viewer data, and advertisers had no way to request independent verification of the results. However, unlike Facebook, which already had acknowledged a series of errors in its data reports, Google made clear that this partnership with the MRC was not in response to any single particular factor or incident. It claimed it has been working toward such an arrangement for several years, and it noted that it already has worked closely with the MRC to provide auditing services for 30 other products.

Advertisers welcomed the news and praised Google for its commitment to transparency and accuracy in its data reporting.

Discussion Question:

  1. What concerns do advertisers have with entities that self-report data metrics?

Source: Mike Shields, “Google Agrees to YouTube Metrics Audit to Ease Advertisers’ Concerns,” The Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2017

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