From the fake-news furor to metrics blunders, Facebook has had a busy week of putting out fires.
Yesterday, Facebook announced that it had miscalculated several metrics including the organic reach of posts, video completions and time spent on Instant Articles. As a sop to advertisers, Facebook said it would form a measurement council and provide more third-party verification. The moves could turn out to be mere fig leaves, but allowing third-party measurement would give in to ad buyers complaining that Facebook was “grading its own homework.”
Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus, said that the snafu could lead marketers to be more skeptical of Facebook’s advertising data as well as its audience segmentation and business intelligence data, even if the miscalculations didn’t directly affect those areas. In general, the errors erode some of Facebook’s reporting authority, he said. At some point, after repeated admissions of errors, advertisers are going to be left doubting a lot of what Facebook is telling them.
“When you are given metrics where I need x to get a y, if x isn’t x, then what does y become?” he asked. “It creates a cascading effect of metrics being wrong.”
Another agency said that given Facebook’s huge role in digital advertising, a “screw-up of this magnitude” gives some clients an easy excuse to discredit the entire digital industry. Facebook declined comment for this story.
Although Facebook states that the hiccup does not affect billing, several agencies were concerned by the mishap given that the platform had already admitted to overestimating its video metrics in September.
“Facebook’s pronouncement that it doesn’t influence billing is astounding,” said Traction CEO Adam Kleinberg. “While it may not influence how they bill, it influences how advertisers spend, and that’s fundamentally the problem.”
Although some of the measurement mistakes, like the organic reach overstatement, are “almost mind-bogglingly elementary,” the other measurement errors were pretty nuanced, said Tim Dunn, director of strategy at Isobar. For example, the way Facebook is altering how they measure video completions through a stronger emphasis on lining up audio and video tracks is a very subtle change, he said. Orli LeWinter, a social marketer at 360i, said the miscalculations didn’t affect her agency’s spending because the discrepancies only occurred in Facebook’s dashboard and 360i uses exported data, which is more accurate.
Agencies were unanimously intrigued by the addition of more third-party measurements — if Facebook fully follows through. Anne DiNapoli, director of paid social at 22squared, said that the increased third-party verification shows that Facebook is listening to feedback from agencies.
However, the miscalculations will still probably increase the demand for an outside audit, DiNapoli said. The Association of National Advertisers previously pushed for a Media Rating Council audit in September after Facebook revealed it had inflated its video views.
Despite the two measuring screw-ups since September, agencies said that their confidence in Facebook’s effectiveness as an ad platform hasn’t diminished.
“It’s not confidence in the platform that’s at risk,” Schafer said. “What is at risk is Facebook authoritative role in instructing marketers how to spend their money.”
Dentsu’s new Web3 readiness tool shines light on the tech’s potential to complement AI
Dentsu's Innovation Initiative is launching a web3 readiness index next month — at a time when the industry is obsessed with AI. Could the two technologies actually make a good pair?
Digiday+ Research deep dive: Publishers large and small put their resources into first-party data
Eighty-two percent of publishers overall say they're already using first-party data to prepare for the end of the third-party cookie, and nearly half are requiring users to register and integrating first-party data segments into DSPs – indicating that first-party data is the clear path forward for publishers heading into the post-cookie world.
Media Briefing: Why publishers hope chatbots will be the latest retention tool
Publishers hope the chatbots they are developing will be the latest retention tool to keep readers onsite and to get them to consume more content.
SponsoredHow enterprise-grade CDPs are enhancing data processes and improving customer experiences
Produced in partnership with Marketecture The following article highlights an interview between Martin Kihn, Salesforce’s senior vice president of Marketing Cloud, and Ari Paparo, founder and CEO of Marketecture Media. Register to watch more of the discussion and learn how brands are making the most of enterprise-grade CDP technologies. As brands expand across channels and […]
How programmatic advertising will evolve this year on the heels of audio growth and privacy changes
Comscore’s programmatic division Proximic released a State of Programmatic study highlighting the growth of audio and podcasting, other digital advertising channels and challenges around third-party data.
Why podcasters are selling subscriptions through third-party vendors
Many podcasters are turning to third party platforms like Supporting Cast and Supercast to launch or grow their subscription businesses beyond Spotify or Apple.