Facebook’s Warped Metrics Anger Advertisers
You might be able to cure all the world’s diseases, Zuckerberg, but don’t piss off the advertisers.
Turns out that Facebook’s video view metrics have been wonky for the past TWO YEARS. According to the Wall Street Journal, the social network has been falsely reporting video metrics to clients for two years – a few unhappy bunnies in that camp, one can assume. Facebook stated that this somewhat embarrassing techy faux pas is down to their video view measurements being ‘artificially inflated’ as they only factored in video views of 3 seconds or more – resulting in a 60-80% overestimation in data.
The main issue here is that big Marky Mark (not that one) has misled advertisers who are consistently spending money promoting campaigns across the global social network. In a statement accepting how much of a backside they’ve made of this whole thing, a spokesperson stated:
“We recently discovered an error in the way we calculate one of our video metrics. This error has been fixed, it did not impact billing, and we have notified our partners both through our product dashboards and via sales and publisher outreach. We also renamed the metrics to make it clearer what we measure. This metrics is one of many our partners use to assess their video campaigns.”
Following this, Facebook have announced their implementation of their new ‘Average Watch Time’ metric, which will include video views of any duration – even those less than 3 seconds. It doesn’t make sense to us either, but whatever. It is, however, as yet unclear what kind of damage limitation this will provide in terms of reputation and stakeholder trust – seeing as it was a two year-long bum steer. Furthermore, this has raised broader concerns about the culture of ‘walled gardens’ within the tech world, which don’t permit third parties to independently collect and analyse analytical campaign data.
Advertising clients have taken the hump, and with good reason. Ad group, Publicis, who splashed over $77 billion on ad space last year, commented:
“In an effort to distance themselves from the incorrect metrics, Facebook is deprecating (the old metrics) and introducing ‘new’ metrics, in September. Essentially, they’re coming up with new names for what they were meant to measure in the first place. This once again illuminates the absolute need to have third party tagging and verification on Facebook’s platform. Two years of reporting inflated performance numbers is unacceptable.”
This blunder is something which shareholders and the wider financial markets have taken note of, with shares falling by 1.3% to $128.30 in after-hours trading following the initial Wall Street Journal report of this story.