The social media behemoth has once again, for the third time since September, announced errors in their measurements. The engagement numbers for links and live videos were misreported. This affected the engagement figures Facebook reports for off-Facebook links as well as reaction counts on Pages’ Live videos.
A History of Bad Data
Prior to this latest announcement, Facebook received backlash after finding discrepancies in the statistics it has been reporting to ad buyers. They have already copped to overestimated the actual reach of Facebook Pages and Instant Articles as well as counts of referrals from ads to apps.
The first time the company admitted to incorrectly reporting metrics to customers was in September. In that revelation Facebook stated that its reports had inflated how much time the average viewers spent watching videos for about two years before catching the miscalculation. Facebook was double counting repeat page visitors as well, which was leading page owners to believe their audience was much larger than it actually is.
Facebook is used daily by about one fifth of the world’s population. Advertisers view the platform as an opportunity to be seen by massive audiences. These incidents have media personnel and advertisers questioning if they should even be considering spending money on Facebook ads since the data they’re receiving has been incorrect. Many believe that Facebook is supposed to be the best of the best so it’s concerning that they were getting their metrics wrong for such a long period of time and still haven’t gotten all of the bugs fixed.
Finding a Fix
Facebook has promised more transparency for users as well as expanding it’s usage of third-party metric services to ensure numbers given to customers are accurate. Facebook also created a blog to post updates on the metrics being used and what its analysts have found as a way to keep users more in the loop. These moves are long overdue. While we applaud these first steps, the move toward increased transparency must continue.
Just days before Facebook announced the latest metrics errors Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, stated that the company will spend around $1.75 billion on Facebook this year on behalf of their clients. In case you don’t know, WPP is one of the main advertising agency holding companies. On the heals of Facebook announcing miscalculations for the third time in such a short span, we wonder if WPP will revise their global spending plans heading into 2017.
One of our concerns has always been that Facebook doesn’t allow their customers to view relevant competitive metrics. Across all other forms of media advertisers are provided with media kids and analytic data about their competition. This type of information is sought after by marketers so they can ensure that they’re spending their time and money wisely. As a result of this restriction it’s difficult to tell if advertising on the platform is worth it. By providing this type of information, not only would Facebook make ad buyers happier, they could be able to restore some faith in the website.
Even though there is a lot of ambiguity concerning Facebook right now, advertisers and marketers are not going to totally abandon the site. The accuracy of the reported metrics may be giving advertisers pause, but it isn’t stopping ad buyers from continuing to use the platform. Many believe it’s too big of a risk to stop advertising on Facebook, especially with how many people use it daily.