SYDNEY: Faced with a sharp decline in Australian media agency bookings in February, Facebook is meeting with both agencies and clients as it seeks to establish a "client council" to help it understand how it can do better.

According to AdNews, the social media giant has contacted media agencies and clients to set up meetings for this week.

That follows reports that top executives from California had flown in to address an unexpected slump in advertising revenues, as Standard Media Index data showed that Facebook lost A$3.2m in media agency bookings in February, a 27.4% decline on the same month a year earlier.

Over the whole of the first quarter, Facebook media agency bookings were up 12%, although that was far below a target growth rate of 60%.

One agency, Blue 449, welcomed the development of a client council, hoping that such a body could "further drive third party verification and transparency in a clouded market".

"I think some of the sheen has come off Facebook a bit," added Ashley Earnshaw, Carat Australia chief investment officer. "There's a healthy scepticism around any platform that doesn't have complete third party verification transparency.

"As Facebook has become a major publisher, it's coming under the scrutiny that all publishers come under from agencies on behalf of clients, " he said.

Earlier this year, Facebook announced it was taking steps to improve cross-channel comparability and third-party verification of data and it also agreed to undergo audits by the Media Rating Council in the US.

These steps followed embarrassing revelations towards the end of last year when the company admitted to a series of errors with its metrics, including reach and viewability.

Data sourced from AdNews, B&T; additional content by WARC staff