Facebook Discloses More Ad-Metric Reporting Glitches

Todd Spangler
Variety

Facebook said it has discovered four additional user-engagement metrics that it has been misreporting to marketing clients.

However, Facebook says none of the errors affected the ad rates that marketers paid. By announcing the misstated figures — and promising to fix them — the company is trying to show it’s taking good-faith efforts to be as up-front as possible with Madison Avenue.

The social giant, which has more than 1.7 billion monthly active users, said it plans to work more closely with third-party measurement providers including Nielsen and is forming a customer task force on measurement.

The update comes two months after Facebook revealed it had overstated the average time spent viewing videos for two years. While that also didn’t affect ad rate, it gave marketers a skewed view of how well their ads performed.

“Our goal going forward is to communicate more regularly about our metrics, so that our partners can focus on doing what they do best — serving their customers — with the best insights possible,” Facebook said in a blog post Wednesday.

Here’s a summary of the metrics Facebook says were misreported:

  • Page Insights: Facebook said a bug in Page Insights caused one summary number showing 7- or 28-day organic page reach was miscalculated as a simple sum of daily reach instead of de-duplicating repeat visitors over those periods. According to the company, the de-duplicated 7-day summary in the overview dashboard will be 33% lower on average and 28-day will be 55% lower. The bug has been live since May and Facebook said it will fix it in the next few weeks.
  • Video – Measuring Completions: In cases when audio and video tracks don’t line up, the audio may continue to play for a bit longer, which caused Facebook to undercount the metric “video watches at 100%” (previously called “video views to 100%”). By updating how the company reads video length, publishers may see a roughly a 35% increase in the count of “video watches at 100%.”
  • Instant Articles – Time Spent: Average time spent per article had been over-reported by 7%-8% on average since August 2015. Facebook said that was caused because it was erroneously calculating the average across a histogram of time spent instead of reflecting the total time spent reading an article divided by its total views. That’s now been fixed.
  • Analytics for Apps – Referrals: Facebook said it miscalculated a metric that evaluates all posts produced by people via an app or website. “We meant to count clicks that went directly to an app or website; however, we’ve also counted other clicks on those posts via the app or website, including clicks to view photos or video,” the company said. Out of the referrals it currently reports, on average about 30% are actually clicks to consume content on Facebook; this glitch is also in the process of being corrected.

 

Related stories

Fake News: The Blame Goes Far Beyond Facebook

Google to Stop Fake News Sites From Making Money With Adsense

Tech Stocks' Donald Trump Hangover Continues

Get more from Variety and Variety411: Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Newsletter