Facebook admitted Wednesday that it has been miscounting views on four of its advertising products and will also begin sharing more information with outside analysis firms to make sure its results are accurate.
Facebook is the largest seller of social networking ads, according to the analysis firm eMarketer. This is the second time in the past few months that Facebook has admitted that its internal methods for counting views has flaws. In September, the company announced that it had been unintentionally inflating video view counts on the network - an error that irked advertisers who had been relying in part on the numbers to set their advertising budgets.
According to Facebook's Wednesday blog post, this latest round of errors affected products including Facebook Instant Articles, video views and organic reach - the number of Facebook users who see a post on its own, without any promotion. Facebook was also miscalculating a metric that helped companies determine how many people were clicking on Facebook posts to check out other apps and websites.
Facebook said that the newest discrepancies didn't cause any extra charges for advertisers. The company is also updating some of its definitions for ad measurements and launching a new blog devoted to giving advertisers more information about ad metrics.
This latest admission and subsequent changes aren't necessarily big news for consumers. For most Facebook users, ads are ads - and the process of how Facebook deals with the advertisers that pay for the network isn't of great interest as long as the site keeps them in check.
But it is a big deal for anyone who puts ads on Facebook, including businesses big and small that are trying to close deals with the network's 1.7 billion users. It's also a significant effort for Facebook, which makes nearly all of its money off of advertising products, and needs to maintain the trust of its advertisers.
The company already has a global client council, formed in 2011, to get advice about how to improve its ad products. On Monday, Facebook announced it would form a second group, called the Measurement Council, to provide similar advice on what information advertisers need to evaluate their advertising strategies.
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