Where’s the “dislike” button? Facebook quietly announced in its “Advertiser Help Center” recently that it’s been accidentally overestimating video plays for years — which means that ad agencies everywhere might have been a little premature with their performance celebrations.
The problem stems from the fact that when measuring for “Average Duration of Video Viewed,” they only included views that lasted three or more seconds. That means that any time a viewer stopped watching in the first few seconds — which, let’s face it, is a lot of us — those numbers weren’t included in overall average metrics.
The numbers Facebook gave to every single marketing agency, creative agency, and even regular posters may have been inflated by as much as 60 to 80%. That’s a big miss, and many advertising agencies are not too happy about it.
“Two years of reporting inflated performance numbers is unacceptable,” said a statement from Publicis Media, an ad buying agency that bought roughly $77 billion in video ads on Facebook for marketers around the world in 2015.
The exaggerated numbers aren’t just annoying for ad agencies, they’re downright misleading. Marketers in the U.S. will spend an average $24 billion this year on online advertising displays, and 59% of CMOs believe that display ads are an effective marketing tool. Facebook’s return numbers probably led many to believe that the social media site was a more effective marketing buy than similar purchases for ads on Twitter or YouTube, for example.
At the very least, Facebook issued an explanation, if not a downright apology.
?We recently discovered an error in the way we calculate one of our video metrics,” a statement read. “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.”
Many, including the Publicis advertising agency, point to this gaffe as an indication of the need for more transparency regarding Internet companies’ secretive practices and algorithms.
“Maybe it’s time for the internet’s so-called walled gardens to finally allow true third-party verification of their data,” reads the Wall Street Journal.
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