Facebook apologizes to ad clients for exaggerating video viewing times

facebook messenger virus malware windows chrome facebookcomp head
Facebook has issued an apology to its ad clients after reports revealed it has been overestimating the average viewing times for videos on its site — for a whopping two years.

“This isn’t just about this error. This is about how seriously we take our partners’ commitment to our platform, and how their investments with us wholly depend on the transparency with which we communicate,” said David Fischer, Facebook’s Vice President of Business and Marketing Partnerships, in a post on the social network.

“We sincerely apologize for the issues this has created for our clients. This error should not stand in the way of our ultimate goal, which is to do what’s in the best interest of our partners and their business growth,” he added.

Despite confirming the error several weeks ago, a recent report asserted that the inflated metrics were much higher than Facebook initially let on.

Facebook first noted “the discrepancy” last month in a post on its Advertiser Help Center: “We had previously defined the Average Duration of Video Viewed as total time spent watching a video divided by the total number of people who have played the video. But we erroneously had calculated the Average Duration of Video Viewed as the total time spent watching a video divided by only the number of people who have viewed a video for three or more seconds.”

To sum it up, Facebook had been ignoring video views that lasted less than three seconds when calculating its average viewing times. As a result, the figures it provided to marketers were higher (and therefore more attractive) than they would have been if those shorter viewing times had been included. Facebook added that it was introducing a new metric to fix the issue.

Facebook did not elaborate on the scale of the error, however, forcing a number of ad agencies to press the issue. And in response to a request from Publicis Media, Facebook addressed its miscalculation in more detail. According to the Wall Street Journal — which obtained a copy of a letter sent to clients by Publicis — Facebook inflated its earlier average video viewing times by between 60 to 80 percent.

It’s unclear whether Facebook will be impacted by the blunder. The company is downplaying the error, but the sheer size of its platform means even one botched metric is a massive figure. Whether marketers will take this into consideration when buying Facebook ads remains to be seen. A decrease in video advertising revenue would inevitably impede Facebook’s larger video strategy.

Publicis wrote in its letter that Facebook should permit third-party verification of its ad insights. The company signed off with a statement that likely indicates the wider sentiment within the marketing industry: “Two years of reporting inflated performance numbers is unacceptable.”

Updated on 09-23-2016 by Saqib Shah: Included new statement from Facebook.

Home Theater

Why are current smart TVs still dumb enough to be hacked?

Our smart TVs can stream on-demand music and movies, and even control our smart home devices. But these features come at a cost and many of us don't even know there's a risk. Can our smart TVs be hacked and what can we do about it?
Social Media

Instagram will give users chance to fix accounts in danger of being banned

Instagram will start issuing warnings for accounts that are in danger of being banned. People will also be able to appeal for the restoration of deleted content through the notifications, instead of having to go to the Help Center.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Product Review

Asus’ buttoned-down Zephyrus M is a gaming laptop in search of purpose

Asus’ Zephyrus M is a mid-range gaming laptop that looks like it could be your everyday machine. Its ninth-generation Core i7 processor and RTX 2060 graphics chip are promising on paper, but odd choices hold the laptop back.
How-To

Stop Facebook from tracking you and using targeted ads with these tips

Facebook and businesses that use the site track what pages you like, your political affiliation, and even try to guess your race. All of this is done so the site can target you with relevant ads. Here's how to opt out.
Social Media

YouTube offers creators more ways to boost their bank accounts

Whether you're a top YouTube creator or just breaking into the game, the video-streaming site has some new features designed to help you please your fans and increase your bank balance.
News

President Trump attacks Facebook Libra, says it’s not dependable like the dollar

President Trump attacked Facebook's new Libra cryptocurrency on Thursday, claiming it will have "little standing or dependability" and that Facebook would need to seek a banking charter if it wanted to move forward.
Social Media

The FTC will hit Facebook with a $5 billion fine over privacy violations

Facebook has agreed to a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its numerous “privacy missteps." Once it goes through, this would be the largest FTC fine for a major technology company – and a huge chunk of…
News

Lua uses animated emotions to help you keep your plants happy and healthy

The Lua Smart Planter is currently seeking funding on Indiegogo to make this smiling plant pot a reality. The device helps you take care of your plants by showing their needs through a series of animated faces.
Mobile

Flex your thumbs (and your brain) with these fun texting games

Gaming consoles keep getting more advanced, but you can still have fun with the good old Latin alphabet. Here are our picks for the best texting games, so you can make the most fun out of that limited data plan or basic cell phone.
News

Facebook says it won’t launch Libra until regulators are happy

Facebook says it won’t roll out its Libra cryptocurrency until it’s fully addressed regulatory concerns – though it added that regulation of the currency itself would largely happen in Switzerland, not the U.S.
Social Media

Twitter’s mobile-inspired dark mode desktop makeover isn’t just about looks

Twitter.com may have a new look, but it's one that already feels familiar. The new design for Twitter's desktop version borrows heavily from the platform's mobile apps, with a sleeker look, a new dark mode, and easier navigation.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Twitter’s redesign, Libra’s possible delay, Neuralink

On this episode of DT Live, we take a look at the biggest trending stories in tech, including a Twitter redesign, Facebook's delay of Libra, Neuralink's first public event, growing food in space, and the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.
News

The U.S. Senate really doesn’t like Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency plans

Facebook Libra had its first big regulatory test when Calibra head David Marcus appeared before the Senate Banking Committee. It didn’t go well. Senators of both parties had major concerns about Facebook's proposed cryptocurrency.