Facebook Busted Inflating Video-Viewing Metrics

Business InsiderFacebook exaggerated a key metric advertisers use to assess the performance of their videos on the platform by potentially as much as 80% for more than two years, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

It’s an embarrassing screwup, and the report suggests one ad buyer, Publicis Media, was “upset” by the error. But while it certainly looks bad, there are a few reasons it why probably won’t be as bad for Facebook as it seems.

The company acknowledged in a post on its Advertiser Help Center website that its metric for average video viewing time had been inflated because it didn’t include video views lasting under three seconds. Facebook added that it was introducing a fix to provide a more accurate metric to include all views: “Average Watch Time.”

A Facebook representative told Business Insider: “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 metric to make it clearer what we measure. This metric is one of many our partners use to assess their video campaigns.”

Look, if you’re off a couple points that’s one thing. That’s understandable. Everybody rounds up, inflates their numbers, makes themselves look just a little better than they actually are. 5’11 guys are never listed on the roster as 5’11 — they’re listed as 6’1. Maybe 6’2 if they can pull it off. That’s fine. But Facebook’s out here inflating by EIGHTY PERCENT!? C’mon Zucks. At least keep it in the ballpark. 80% is ridiculous.

Everybody knows we’re pushing the Facebook Live thing. That’s the future. If you’re capable of capturing a live audience, you’re awesome. CNN has 23 million followers; their Facebook live video the other day had 4K viewers. NHL has 3.5 million followers; their Facebook live video the other day had 800 viewers. Barstool Sports has 600K followers; we get 2-4K live viewers. Facebook is huge for us and huge for any content company. Especially companies that are creating and pushing original video content. So Facebook is inflating video-viewing metrics to advertisers? Kinda love it. If I do a video, throw it up on Facebook, and they’re telling advertisers it’s got a billion views and is worth a zillion dollars? Fantastic.

Tough little setback here and nobody likes Zucks. He’s a typical arrogant Harvard douche. Those guys are the worst. But everybody inflates their numbers — Facebook could maybe just dial it back a point or two or seventy.