Google submitted to an audit of YouTube’s viewer metrics by the ad-industry watchdog, Media Ratings Council.
The announcement followed a similar decision by Facebook earlier this month. Together, YouTube and Facebook deliver the vast majority of ad-supported online video.
YouTube's usage is already monitored by third parties—Moat, Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify—but much of the data these companies gather on YouTube comes from the internet video giant itself.
“What’s happening now is that this data is generally in the control of large platforms, and it’s a little bit of a black box,” said DoubleVerify President and Chief Executive Wayne Gattinella, speaking to the Wall Street Journal. Gattinella added that his company has been working to help Google provide more transparent metrics for roughly a year.
“The market is saying, ‘We want to ensure that the process [these companies employ] is understood, and is documented and accurate. Otherwise, it could be garbage in garbage out, and we’re not able to determine that.’ So this is all good news.”
The decisions made by Google and Facebook to provide greater transparency in their metrics followed an industry-rattling speech delivered earlier this month by Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard, who called on the internet ad-delivery giants to clean up their acts.
“We serve ads to consumers through a non-transparent media supply chain with spotty compliance to common standards, unreliable measurement, hidden rebates and new inventions like bot and methbot fraud,” Pritchard said.
Given the massive scale of both YouTube and Facebook, the audits are expected to take several quarters.
For their part, Google’s operatives insisted they have nothing to hide.
“Our data has to be trusted and comprehensive,” said Babak Pahlavan, Google’s senior director of product management, analytics solutions and measurement, to WSJ. “We are very in tune with the idea.”