Facebook inflated a key video view metric by 60-80% for two years

REUTERS, Dado Ruvic, 2016

No one saw this coming, except everyone who works in online video. The Wall Street Journal reports that social media giant Facebook over-reported video ad view time on its platform for two whole years, citing unnamed sources.

The reporting traces back to this Facebook blog post.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Several weeks ago, Facebook disclosed in a post on its “Advertiser Help Center” that its metric for the average time users spent watching videos was artificially inflated because it was only factoring in video views of more than three seconds. The company said it was introducing a new metric to fix the problem.

Some ad agency executives who were also informed by Facebook about the change started digging deeper, prompting Facebook to give them a more detailed account, one of the people familiar with the situation said.

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.

“This error has been fixed, it did not impact billing, and we have notified many of our partners both through our product dashboards and via sales and publisher outreach,” Facebook said Thursday in a statement.

Bloomberg News reminds us that “Facebook’s executives are set to meet with their top advertisers in New York next week during the Advertising Week conference.”