Facebook reveals more metrics mistakes and updates

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 10 December 2016
Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook has revealed yet another set of mistakes and “misallocations” of numbers within its metrics following an internal review of its measurements.

These include the wrong allocation of reactions on streaming video, a discrepancy between Like and Share counts on mobile search and a change in the way it calculates potential and estimated reach and potential audience size.

In the case of streaming video reactions, reactions during live broadcast were “misallocated”. They were captured in the wrong reporting column which will mean 'reactions on post' numbers will increase 500% and decrease on 'reactions on shares of post' by 25% when the new fix comes into play.

A 500% difference is undeniably a massive shift in what was being reported, particularly when Facebook is pushing its new live broadcast functionality so hard. Facebook maintains that total counts were correct.

Changes in the way Facebook measures its metrics are said to be to “help advertisers get a better view of the number of people they can expect to reach with ads”. It inherently means that way it has been measured in the past did not give the most accurate or useful information.

In the latest blog post on its Metrics FYI blog, which it launched in November as part of its efforts to communicate more transparently with advertisers over changes to measurement, Facebook says the improvement to the way it samples and extrapolates potential audience sizes will be more accurate and help account for agencies across platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and its Audience Network, but it will result in up to a 10% increase or decrease in what advertisers previously saw.

It has also found a “discrepancy” in the counts for Like and Share buttons between its Graph API and the counts that come through mobile search

Last month Facebook revealed a raft of errors across its metrics that mean advertisers have been given incorrect data and metrics regarding various elements or campaign performance on the platform. It has reiterated that none of the changes or errors impacted billable metrics, but they would have been part of the considerations marketers used when allocating budgets.

There has been strong challenge from other media such as TV and radio which are furious at the lack of outrage over Facebook's repeated errors in metrics and the lack of auditing and independence.

Speaking at the Think TV event last week CEO's of all three major FTA broadcasters and Foxtel voiced their concern at Facebook's lack of accountability.

Foxtel CEO Peter Tonagh said: “I find it almost inconceivable that somebody can be out by 55% and there’s not outrage across the industry ... If our measurement systems were out by 55% I think we would be hammered.”

Seven's Tim Worner added that media buyers and marketers “would kill us” if the television industry misreported in the same way as Facebook has been found to have.At the same event OzTam CEO Doug Peiffer also urged more questioning of Facebook's numbers from advertisers and CMOs saying that “not all numbers are equal”.

“We need to question what we're measuring and how. I'm not hear to have crack at Facebook but it's time for measurement to be independent, transparent and audited,” he added.

Seperately, speaking at teh AANA's end of year event former Toyota CMO and AANA chair accused Facebook of essentially "lying to and stealing from" advertisers by misreporting its numbers.

Speaking to AdNews last month, Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s vice president of global marketing solutions, defended Faebook saying it was a "nascent" channel.

“It’s universally recognised that as an industry we [digital] are still nascent. TV has been around 70 years. We have new products and new behaviours and it will continue to evolve. I’m not saying there won’t be a mistake again, we will be rigorous about it, transparent and have ongoing communication, and I really believe that intent [to improve] matters a lot here with marketers,” she told AdNews in November.

The furore around Facebook "marking its own homework" accelerated in September when Facebook admitted that it had been over inflating video view metrics by up to 80%

When it introduced the metrics FYI blog, Facebook said it's intention was to offer more transparency, “clarity and confidence” in its metrics.

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop me a line at rosiebaker@yaffa.com.au

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