Facebook may have angered a lot of ad buyers and marketers. According to a recent report, Facebook grossly overestimated the average viewing time for video ads on the social networking site for two years.
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, an ad buying agency was told by Facebook that it overestimated average time spent watching videos by between 60 percent and 80 percent. The reason behind this was that Facebook did not include views that lasted less than three seconds thereby inflating the average viewing time.
Facebook posted on its 'Advertiser Help Centre' that it was introducing a new metric to fix the problem. The company explained that the old metric only took into account views of more than three seconds.
"We recently discovered an error in the way we calculate one of our video metrics," Facebook said in a statement. "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."
This statistical misinformation is likely to affect ad buyers and marketers who have been misguided by the social networking giant. The data is used by media companies and publishers to help determine the type of content to post. The overestimation will have likely hidden the actual performance of video advertising to marketers for the past two years.
Facebook is fixing the issue by introducing two new metrics:
Video Average Watch Time: the total watch time for your video, divided by the total number of video plays. This includes plays that start automatically and on click. This will replace the Average Duration of Video Viewed metric.
Video Percentage Watched: reflects the percentage of your video somebody watches per session, averaged across all sessions of your video where the video auto-played or was clicked to play. This will replace the Average Percentage Video Viewed metric.
The overestimation is particularly disconcerting given Facebook's influence in social media advertising. The company has been focusing more on videos in recent years, pushing video-related content to the top of users' feed, especially live video. We'll have to wait and see if Facebook's new metrics can undo the damage that's already been done.
(Also see: Facebook Live Video Is Coming Soon to Desktops)