It turns out Facebook has been grossly overestimating a key metric for video ad performance over the last two years. Counted viewing times, which are basically the first indicator of a genuine lead from video ads, have been inflated by 60-80% on the network.

That’s a seriously big miscalculation on an important metric and it’s no surprise Facebook is apologising. These are the kind of metrics marketing managers take to their CEOs to prove their Facebook efforts are paying off. Needless to say, this is some very bad press for Google’s main competitor in the online ad space.

 

Facebook apologises

Facebook knows just how big a problem this is for advertisers who have invested in video ads.

“We know we can’t have true partnerships with our clients unless we are upfront and honest with them, including when we make mistakes like this one. Our clients’ trust and belief in our metrics is essential to us and we have to earn that trust,” David Fischer, vice president of business marketing and partnerships at Facebook, wrote in a blog post.

For some the apology isn’t enough, though:

 

Google has been accused of inflating metrics countless times too, of course. But this kind of ‘miscalculation’ is another thing entirely. In fact, the only thing going in Facebook’s favour here is that it’s such a huge error, you have to believe it was a genuine mistake. You’d go for something a little more subtle than 60-80% if you were playing around with figures.

 

No other metrics affected

In the same post, Fischer makes it very clear that the miscalculations have no impact on any other metrics and the issue was fixed as soon as it was detected. However, this won’t offer much comfort to advertisers who have been heavily investing in Facebook video ads over the last two years.

For advertisers the implications are numerous. First of all, these metrics suggest their videos are far more engaging than they actually have been. While the following conversion rates will have been incredibly unconvincing. We have to wonder how many advertisers have come to the conclusion that Facebook doesn’t generate valuable leads, thinking they’ve got a much larger interested audience than they actually have.

So it’s pretty poor news for Facebook and its video advertisers alike. The knock-on effects from such inaccuracy could be massive for brands who rely heavily on video advertising.

 

Have you been affected by Facebook’s metric inaccuracy over the last two years? Get in touch with us if you want to share your story or need advice on where to go from here.