Monday, 20 March 2017

The inscrutable eyeball machine

This piece contains an interesting insight into the business of advertising on Facebook. Here are the startling bits:
Facebook faces a business problem; it’s [sic] unaudited “internal company data” has been, at times, grossly inaccurate; that is, it may be selling eyeballs, but in 2016 buyers don’t really know which eyeballs, how many, and where...

...Facebook has formed alliances with other third-party verification firms, including the Media Rating Council...
Which sounds fair enough, except, being the 800-pound gorilla in the room, Facebook gets to choose what those pesky auditors are allowed to see:
...Facebook chooses what data to submit. I’ll note that if we were back in the print world, this would like locking the auditor into a room, and handing him a report of how many papers were delivered, instead of letting him look at the trucks or the loading dock. In other words, it’s the metric that’s certified, but not the data driving the metric, or the algorithm creating that data.
To most people, this wouldn't seem like the right way to do auditing, but I guess that when you're the 800-pound gorilla in a relationship "right" = whatever suits you:
Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.
Interesting stuff, although I don't think this power relationship shows that Facebook faces a business problem.

It looks to me as though business faces a Facebook problem, at least until it finds a way to look inside the black box of Facebook's eyeball machine.

 Image credit Wellcome Library, London