September 23, 2016

OOPS: Facebook Overestimated Key Video Metric for Two Years.

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 isn’t just a big deal for advertisers on Facebook-hosted videos, but also for video producers. Metrics like how long users watch and exactly when they stop watching help producers figure out the best ways of creating content which actually keeps people watching.

Business Insider’s Lara O’Reilly argues that Facebook’s flub isn’t “as bad as it seems,” but as one of those content creators, I’d have to strongly disagree.

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