With the world’s largest social network, it’s no surprise that Facebook has built a multi-billion dollar digital advertising empire. But maintaining advertiser confidence appears to be a growing challenge.

According to a survey conducted by Advertiser Perceptions, while many advertisers plan to up their spend with Facebook in 2017, 40% also plan to perform independent audits of the advertising campaigns they’re running on the social network.

More disturbing for Facebook is the fact that two-thirds of those surveyed indicated that they’re questioning their Facebook ad investments.

Advertiser Perceptions says that, outside of Google paid search, confidence in digital and social advertising platforms is well under 50% and, as it relates to Facebook, advertiser concerns may be largely due to a string of revelations about inaccuracies with the company’s ad metrics.

Move fast and break things

While Facebook says that those faux pas – which resulted in a number of metrics being inaccurately reported, in some cases by substantial amounts – didn’t impact billing for ads, a number of companies have sued Facebook, claiming that the errors influenced their decisions to invest in Facebook.

Even if Facebook is successful in defending against the lawsuits, the company, which once popularized the mantra “move fast and break things,” can ill afford to see an erosion of advertiser faith as younger competitors, namely Snapchat, more aggressively vie for social ad dollars. Even more importantly, if advertisers lose faith in Facebook, it could poison the entire market for social ads, driving advertisers to shift dollars to other digital channels.

Indeed, Advertiser Perceptions says that among advertisers planning to up their spend with Facebook and Google, only 8% plan to up their spend with Facebook but not Google, while 36% plan to up their spend with Google but not Facebook.

Of course, what’s challenging and potentially problematic for Facebook isn’t necessarily bad for advertisers. Few today doubt the viability of social ads but as social advertising reaches a greater level of maturity and advertisers have more significant experience and data behind their efforts, it is absolutely appropriate for them to start paying closer attention to and evaluating the efficacy of their campaigns.

In many cases, independent audits are worthwhile, and as Facebook sees advertiser scrutiny increase, it might eventually be forced to relent and offer greater transparency, such as third-party tagging, which has to date been a source of tension between the company and advertisers.

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