Some Olympic sports, like gymnastics and diving, eliminate competitors’ lowest scores, and it appears that Facebook took a similar approach in its data on average viewing time for videos over the past two years.
Suzanne Vranica and Jack Marshall of The Wall Street Journal reported that the social network disclosed the glitch in a post on its advertising help center several weeks ago, admitting that it only included video views of more than three seconds, which artificially inflated its data for average time watching videos, and Facebook said in a statement to the two reporters:
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.
Vranica and Marshall obtained a letter to clients from agency Publicis Media saying that the glitch likely resulted in the average time spent figures being overinflated by 60 percent to 80 percent and adding:
In an effort to distance themselves from the incorrect metrics, Facebook is deprecating (the old metrics) and introducing “new” metrics in September. Essentially, it is 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.
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