Why You Should Care About the Facebook Video Metric Overestimation

Call me a silver lining kind of gal, ’cause I see one in the Facebook measurement overestimation.

Publically announced weeks ago on Facebook’s Advertiser Help Center and reported on yesterday via The Wall Street Journal’s article, “Facebook Overestimated Key Video Metric for Two Years,” the social media giant drastically overstated the average time users spent watching videos – by 60% to 80%. According to Facebook, the error was due to discarding data from users who watched the videos for three seconds or less.

GroupM’s POV called the situation “unfortunate,” saying that “No credible researcher would ever discount the data Facebook excluded without prominently noting the calculation methodology.” GroupM also noted that, ironically, Facebook touts the ad recall value in the first three seconds of a video ad in its own studies conducted by Nielson.

So What Does This Mean for Advertisers?

The implication for advertisers is this: You can’t let partners grade their own homework. Relying on site-served measurement and analytics leaves brands exposed to such mistakes and accompanying business decisions based on what the platforms choose to share.

Catalyst and GroupM have long held this stance and have strongly recommended our clients use Moat Analytics as a partner to establish third-party verified metrics for video viewability. By doing so our teams were able to make better-informed decisions around video despite Facebook’s overstatement of performance.

It has also been Catalyst’s stance since early Moat Analytics implementation that Facebook is a great platform for reaching targeted audiences at scale, but the jury is out on whether video is the most impactful means to reach them. Facebook offers many formats, and we have strongly recommended using additional formats and testing into video effectiveness.

What Do We Do About It Now?

If you were already using third-party viewability verification before the Facebook announcement, give yourself a huge pat on the back for avoiding this bear trap. You already have metrics that are accurate and actionable for your brand, and the announcement doesn’t change the decisions you’ve made based on solid analytics.

For advertisers and agencies at large, this is a perfect example of why we should hold the social platforms accountable for what they do or don’t deliver. This includes pushing back when measurement raises a red flag, skeptically testing new ad formats, and partnering with others who will help us in these endeavors.

Because every social platform will tell you it deserves an A+.

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