Features

Industry360: Facebook and Google on tackling transparency

Industry360 gives Mumbrella readers a top-line view on what’s really going on in the media, marketing and advertising industries. This week we pose some tough questions to Facebook's Naomi Shepherd and Google's Kevin Ackhurst.

Naomi Shepherd, director, Facebook Australia and New Zealand

How can digital players tackle the transparency and measurement problems?

I think a lot of work here has already begun across the whole industry.

At Facebook we have driven through many changes already, in privacy, brand safety, measurement, plus there are new controls and greater transparency around data and and ads. People can now see every ad a page is running — even if the person wasn’t targeted. People can also filter ads by country and they can report an ad to us. We have also introduced new policies requiring advertisers to specify the origin of their audience’s information when they bring a customer list to us.

We all want greater transparency. It increases accountability for us and advertisers and allows us to get input from our community and experts, helps find and fix problems. We are committed to bringing more transparency and control to information we use.

Controls have always existed; but it’s clear we need to do way more to outline these controls to people. We have already simplified the terms of service; reorganised all into one place the privacy shortcuts and ensured that everyone can download your information (DYI). This year you’ll see us launch Clear History, a tool that will allow you to delete the information apps/websites you’ve interacted with. And, last year for GDPR, we made all the same controls and settings available everywhere.

Our commitment to third-party measurement and verification is clear. We first started working with third-party measurement partners in 2008. To date, we have 24 partners in our measurement system, such as Oracle Data Cloud, Nielsen, Kantar Millward Brown, as well as three partners measuring viewability: Moat, Integral Ad Science and comScore. And we’re in the process of adding two new viewability partners: DoubleVerify and Meetrics.

In April last year, the Media Rating Council (MRC), accredited us to report ad impressions on Facebook and Instagram after the first of three rounds of audits we agreed to undergo in December 2016. We’re now working with MRC to achieve accreditation across viewability, or how long an ad appears on a screen, through third-party vendors like comScore, Moat and Integral Ad Science, and rolling out a new buying system that uses the MRC’s definition of viewability.

Over the years, we haven’t done a great job explaining how our business model works and this has created confusion. We will communicating more transparently about what we’re doing and the role our services play in the world. Here we are using channels such as our Inside Feed blog and Hard Questions blog. With these we aim to shed more light on the people and processes behind our products and address critical questions about the impact of our products on society.

Is the relationship between traditional media players and the tech players, as bad as the press makes it out to be?

No.

The traditional media players are some of our biggest partners, we use each others services, ads products and work together on various projects such as building new products such as subscriptions on Facebook, improving monetisation opportunities and projects such as Facebook Live events.

Right now we are working with the Seven team at My Kitchen Rules. Each week we go live from our Facebook Studio in an “Ask us anything” Q&A with the contestants. These interviews are live streamed to the MKR and Seven Pages. We are working with Seven to execute one Live Q&A a week for the next 8 weeks. If you’re a fan, tune in here.

Tell us about one day at work in the industry which completely challenged your world view and your thinking.

Our global head of diversity, Maxine Williams, completely changed my thinking on how we support diversity and inclusion in our workplaces. There is so much attention on this area right now and I see small businesses and the largest agency holding companies investing in it because it makes good business sense.

I always considered myself a fierce supporter of diversity in the workforce, but Maxine spoke to our team a few months ago about the difference between fairness and equity. Fairness is treating everyone equally, but equity is meeting people where they are. There is such an important nuance in those two words; something I’d never thought about before.

For example, women in full time work who have children spend about double the time on domestic work and triple the time on childcare as men, so accounting for that and bringing them up to the same level as their male counterparts before beginning on development or finding opportunities, is critical. It’s changed my view not just about gender diversity, but diversity in all of its forms.

Will Facebook ever recover from its horror year? 

Yes.

2018 was a challenging and important year for us. We know we need to get better at anticipating all of the risks that come with connecting so many people. We are not the same company we were a year ago. We now have a fundamentally different approach to how we run our company.

We made significant investments in safety and security, we now have over 30,000 people around the world working on safety and security, 3x as many as 2017. We’ve strengthened our defences against election interference and we’ve given people tools to better control their information. This year you’ll see us set a new global standard for transparency and ads. We have focused on making progress in these important areas while continuing to grow our community and our business.

While we’ve been focused on investing in these key areas, the fundamentals of the business have remained strong. More than 90 million small businesses now use our free and paid tools giving them instantly a mobile presence. 2019 will see us building new and inspiring ways to help people connect and build communities.

The internet is a massive force for change and we’re at the centre of a lot of the debate that brings, but our core value to Australians remains the same. We offer a free service to everyone to help them stay connected with the people they care about, express what they’re thinking and feeling, get help when they need it most, support the causes and ideas they believe in, start and grow businesses no matter where they are, and that makes a lot of good possible. And we are committed to building technology that people can use to create positive change.

Last month we marked our 15th birthday, with the changes we’ve put in place I believe we will be around for many more.

Kevin Ackhurst, director of brand, agency and deals at Google Australia

How can digital players tackle the transparency and measurement problems?

Transparency is often used as a catch-all term, so it’s important to define what we mean and the context in which we are using it. If we are talking about transparency in measurement, concerns are often related to the ability to compare across platforms. There is undoubtedly more to do in that area – current industry measurement is struggling to keep up with the changing behaviours of audiences.

We need to work together across platforms to achieve a method of measuring audience across screens, including on emerging screens like connected TV – which aren’t currently reflected in all measurements.

To help advance advertising measurement on our own platforms, we’ve invested in third-party accreditations through the Media Rating Council (MRC), and partnerships with leading measurement technology providers (such as Nielsen, Moat and IAS). These efforts help ensure that the metrics our advertising solutions deliver align with industry standards, and can be compared across providers.

Is the relationship between traditional media players and the tech players, such as Google and Facebook, as bad as the press makes it out to be?

We work closely with a range of media outlets and publishers and have productive relationships with them. We understand the media industry is in transition and along with the opportunities come some challenges.

Through Google Search and Google News we send more than 10 billion visits to publishers globally each month. In 2018, we paid USD$14.2 billion to partners globally, which constituted more than 70% of the revenues earned from displaying ads served by Google on partners’ properties.

Tell us about one day at work in the industry which completely challenged your world view and your thinking.

The day I met Chris Freel CEO of UnLtd, the charity foundation of the media, marketing and advertising industry I realised the benefit our industry could have on less fortunate young Australians and create significant positive social change.

I realised the opportunities to collaborate outweigh the competitive tensions we feel daily and ‘the media, marketing and creative industry and its people have the potential to use their financial and cultural influence to create significant positive social change’ I remind myself of this daily, regardless of what I’m facing and look for opportunities to realise that vision as part of the work I do.

The important discussions continue in June as Mumbrella360 returns for 2019 with exclusive research on the world’s most successful campaigns, best practice on measuring and managing KPIs, optimising campaigns in the real world and a host of essential marketing tips from leading industry experts.

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