Advertisers sceptical after Facebook admits to inflating metrics for video ad views

Facebook has been inflating the video viewing time on its platform by up to 80%, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. According to a mention in one of its blog posts, the company had admitted to include views that were only three seconds long, thereby articifically overestimating the number of views per video.

Facebook inflated video views



Let’s face it, three seconds aren’t very long. One, two, three.

Indeed, the news has been upsetting advertisers and marketers who find the measurement metric “unacceptable”. The duration was based on something Facebook dubs “Average Duration of Video Viewed”. This had been set to three seconds. Views below three seconds were not counted.

After admitting to the stunt, the company says it wants to exchange the measure for “Average Watch Time”. In a statement, Facebook said:

“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.”

Video is big business for Facebook. According to the Journal, Publicis advertising group had bought $77bn in total advertising from Facebook in 2015. That’s a lot of video minutes and a lot of inaccurate stats, ultimately resulting in the agency spending more on social media advertising than it may have otherwise.

Brian Shin, Founder and CEO of Visible Measures, told Mashablethat the social media company should have shown total video views in combination with another, more objective measurement such as Engaged Viewing Time.

brian shin

“The inaccuracy of ‘self-reported’ stats is why an objective measure is needed. The lack of standardisation in terms of how video views are calculated is why an objective measure of time is needed that goes across YouTube, Facebook and other places selling cost-per-view (and other forms of) video advertising. Facebook including ad impression data (the stuff before 3 seconds) would not help. Marketers are paying for views (post-3 seconds) and they need to know the “value” of what they bought – demonstrable by viewing time.”

Ad spending for mobile video is set to increase by 55% this year, according to eMarketer estimates. It outpaces the 45%-growth rate expected for mobile ad spend as a whole.

Mobile video advertising spend growing rapidly



Facebook’s latest news may result in publishers and advertisers spending less on video. However, it is one of the many Facebook advertising offers and as such may not affect company revenue results all that much.