Facebook Admits To Exaggerating Video Viewing Metrics For Two Years

By @TheMarkDalton

If you use Facebook video, especially for business, then this is one that concerns you. Facebook has admitted that they have overestimated video viewing metrics for the past two years.

Facebook at one point was puffing out their chest over how great video views were on the platform. They were catching up to YouTube, then they were overtaking YouTube. Videos on Facebook was the place to be, YouTube was up against it big time and the future appeared to be Facebook.

At the time that this was happening, I along with others made the point that one of Facebook’s metrics meant it was gaining an unfair advantage in the numbers game over YouTube and all may not be as it seems.

Well now Facebook has admitted to it and it turns out the video viewing metric was incorrectly inflated because video views were counted after just three seconds and did not take into account shorter views. So basically just scrolling past a video in your Facebook timeline would more than likely count it as a view.

The numbers have been overestimated by a whopping 60% – 80%. Now as a user and a viewer then this does not so much affect you. However for marketers and business owners, this is big news.

Marketing and advertising budgets are put in place based on numbers so any budget you have put together for Facebook video off the back of the metrics from the social network is pretty much worthless because the data was incorrect.

Facebook says it has taken steps to correct the issue.

“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.”

Facebook is now introducing two new metrics to video viewing, video average watch time and video percentage watched.

Video average watch time: This is 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: This is the percentage of your video someone 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 % video viewed metric.

Facebook may say that the discrepancy didn’t affect billing but advertisers rely on data. That is what budgets are set around and how they know where to allocate different amounts of the budget. They rely on those numbers being correct and an exaggeration of 60% – 80% means that hard earned $$ have been pretty much wasted.