Facebook’s been giving advertisers inflated video viewing metrics for the last two years. Oops.
If you’ve been tracking your brand’s video viewership on Facebook, you are in for a rude surprise. Ad agencies are fuming at the bombshell news that Facebook wildly overestimated their view time metrics for the past two years.
The problem, according to Christopher Heine in AdWeek, lies in how Facebook calculated the average view time per video. The social media metrics only counted videos that play for at least three seconds when figuring view time, making the average look far better than it really was…a lot better.
“Ad buying agency Publicis Media was told by Facebook that the earlier counting method likely overestimated average time spent watching videos by between 60% and 80%, according to a late August letter Publicis Media sent to clients that was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal,” notes this article in the Wall Street Journal.
“The metric should have reflected the total time spent watching a video divided by the total number of people who played the video. But it didn’t,” said Facebook’s David Fischer on the social platform’s blog. According to Facebook’s public explanation, they discovered the error in these calculations about a month ago.
“We informed our partners and made sure to put a notice in the product itself so that anyone who went into their dashboard could understand our error,” said the company’s blog post.
We’ve been questioning Facebook’s dodgy viewership numbers since last year when it became obvious that Facebook’s idea of a “view” was rather generous and included auto-play videos that were likely never seen at all. And while Facebook claims the error didn’t impact billing, an overinflated metric of this type could certainly have swayed ad budgets in favor of digital video.
This only reinforces our belief that digital video is the next bubble to burst, even as 75% of all mobile traffic is expected to be video by 2020. As the fight for eyes heats up, there’s plenty of reasons to feel that the digital video economy is not all it’s cracked up to be.