Twitter will make its ads more transparent to brands, everyone else

As the spotlight hits the murky side of digital advertising — from election-related controversies to viewability concerns — Twitter is pledging to expose more aspects of its advertising business.

Twitter plans to open an Advertising Transparency Center so that anyone can see all of the ad campaigns currently running on the social network, including those that didn’t originally appear as regular tweets. Additionally, the company has agreed to have the independent Media Rating Council (MRC) audit its ad measurements so that brands can be assured of what they are buying.

Twitter’s Advertising Transparency Center will roll out “in the coming weeks,” according to a company blog post published on Tuesday. The move is an attempt by the company to address the controversy surrounding how Russian-linked entities used digital ads on Twitter, Facebook and Google in an effort to influence last year’s US presidential election.

In addition to indexing all currently running campaigns on Twitter, the Advertising Transparency Center will show how long each ad has been running and what it looks like. And people will also be able to see a list of the ads that have been targeted to them and “report inappropriate ads or give negative feedback (i.e. ‘I don’t like this ad’) for every ad running on Twitter, whether the ad targets you or not,” according to Twitter.

Twitter has also adopted a new policy regarding political campaign ads. Now Twitter will require that those buying such ads to disclose that they are aimed at influencing an election, and Twitter will label these as political ads on its platform. In the Ad Transparency Center, these “electioneering ads” will be displayed along with details about the advertiser’s identity, its historical ad spend and the targeting parameters used.

In addition to making its ad ecosystem more visible, Twitter will make its ad measurements more transparent. After Facebook and Google’s YouTube agreed to MRC audits earlier this year, Twitter has followed suit.

At the moment, independent auditors are checking that Twitter’s measurements comply with industry standards. That work is expected to be completed by the end of this year, and then the MRC will officially inspect how Twitter counts ad impressions, including earned impressions, viewable video impressions and the amount of time people spend looking at a tweet or viewing a video on Twitter, according to an announcement released by the MRC on Tuesday (PDF).

“The MRC’s audit will cover metrics included in the data feeds Twitter prepares for third-party measurers, as well as its own reporting of certain metrics. It is expected that the ingestion and processing of the Twitter data feeds by the third parties will also be audited separately by MRC, to allow for an end-to-end consideration of Twitter metrics as reported through these third-party environments,” according to the MRC.

The independent auditor plans to complete its review of Twitter’s ad measurements sometime during the first half of 2018.

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