Cracks in The Walled Gardens

For some time, we’ve been referring to Google and Facebook as a duopoly as it relates to digital marketing. Many marketers spend the majority of their digital efforts with these two entities mainly because the stats and results have been phenomenal. But are they really?

Two recent events make me feel otherwise. First, there’s a huge lawsuit against Facebook for claiming their metrics were inflated and misleading and it goes all the way up to Sheryl Sandberg. Second, some marketers are walking away from Google’s exchange because of Google’s insistence on holding data back that other programmatic partners are willing to share.

 Google and Facebook are walled gardens. You can operate entirely inside their technology from an end to end basis to market your brand. Inflated stats or limited transparency into what’s really happening hurts everyone. If you think your brand is reaching 30 million people on Facebook at a fraction of the cost of other options, you’ll spend more there. If that 30 million really is 15 million or even 20 million you’re being misled about the value of your investment and other options might be better choices after all, but their being harmed by their honesty.

Facebook has a long history of fake profiles. There is no mechanism in place for them to verify that someone who is creating a profile is unique and not creating multiple profiles. We don’t know if Facebook is involved in creating some of these. Facebook has to do a better job of figuring out how many people have multiple profiles for us to really understand their metrics.

The only way to know is either for them to spend some money on researching this and using a third party to conduct the research or for one of our ad industry research/validation organizations to do it collectively on behalf of the industry. If Facebook doesn’t comply it could be looking at give backs for the last 15 years.

As for Google, marketers want to know log-level data about the programmatic bids they won and lost in order to best understand their bidding strategies. This data should be shared as it gives transparency into whether marketers are paying too much or bidding too little for the inventory and data needed to make their campaigns successful.

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