Facebook, PwC and the dodgy numbers on Australia's video watching habits

By Chris Pash | 25 July 2019
The link to the report page on Facebook.

A study created by PwC on behalf of Facebook about how Australians consume video has been pulled from circulation over concerns over accuracy of the data.

The TV industry was quick to point out flaws in the report, saying "the numbers have been used to inflate, some to hide and others to completely bury the real story about video consumption".

Industry research bodyThinkTV called the PwC report numberwanging, a term used to describe the act of throwing numbers around while not really explaining why they are of value.

Facebook had used the report -- My Screen – Video consumption in Australia -- to support the argument that changes to the way Australians consume video suggest it’s also time to change media planning and buying.

eMarketer estimates Facebook controls 20.2% of the $US333.25 billion worldwide digital advertising market. Google is the world's number one digital advertising publisher with a 31.1% share.

The 52-page report, launched on Monday this week, was used to support the proposition that Facebook is the platform of choice for video. Why buy ads across all networks and regions when you could get the same audience from a single buy on Facebook?

However, ThinkTV pointed out that a single "buy" still requires purchasing a significant amount of inventory and that the number of campaign spots needed across Facebook to match the reach delivered across TV would come with a very heavy back-end frequency distribution.

Steve Weaver, research director at ThinkTV, said: "Independently verified data tells us that TV has in excess of 90% reach in any given month with people watching more than two hours every day, but most importantly, it has a real strength advantage in capturing people’s attention."

Facebook has now put a "pause" on the distribution of the report while PwC validates "a very small subset of industry sourced data". 

The data in question is that used by PwC to bridge a gap in available data via a study with 3,050 Australian consumers to understand insights across all types of content -- BVOD (broadcast video on demand), SVOD (subscription video on demand), free-to-air television, social media -- and all devices.

PwC told AdNews the majority of the My Screen report uses the professional services firm's own research data.

"As clearly outlined in the report, the measurement framework for the video landscape in Australia is complex and fragmented," a spokesman says.

"There are data limitations and these caveats have been clearly outlined in the report. We believe we've used the very best data sources that are available.

"We stand by the methodology used in the analysis and the importance of this research. We are currently validating a very small subset of industry sourced data and the report will be reissued once resolved.”

Andy Ford, head of marketing science at Facebook, says PwC was selected as an impartial consultancy to provide a balanced and independent view of the video market.

"The majority of the report uses PwC’s own research data and provides an insightful view of the video ad market," he says.

"We are aware that PwC are in discussions around certain sub segments of the data. We hope to have an update on this shortly. Until then we have decided to pause the distribution of the report in the market.”

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