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Facebook Is Apologising For “Inflating” Average Video View Time

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Compared to YouTube the likes of Dailymotion, Facebook is relatively new to the social videos space and as you might expect the world by storm when it announced at some point that it would go the YouTube way of sharing revenues with dedicated content creators. That saw an explosion in the number of videos viewed by users on Facebook to the point that by November last year, they said the social media giant was recording 8 billion views per day and this was up 100 percent from April in the same year. By this time, Facebook was now being considered a real competitor to YouTube in a separate report but there was a major difference in the way they both defined “views”. Facebook considers a video viewed just after 3 seconds as opposed to YouTube’s 30 seconds and that was the difference but this didn’t make much difference to advertisers who have continued to use Facebook’s video service. This has further increased Facebook’s digital advert space market share to 12 percent coming second only to Google which controls about 31 percent of that market.

For those who have had their doubts on Facebook video views claims, well you may have been right all along. On Friday, Facebook apologised sort of for “inflating” the average time it says people actually watch videos on its platform. In a post by David Fischer who is VP, Business and Marketing Partnerships at Facebook, he said;

“About a month ago, we found an error in the way we calculate one of the video metrics on our dashboard – average duration of video viewed. The metric should have reflected the total time spent watching a video divided by the total number of people who played the video. But it didn’t – it reflected the total time spent watching a video divided by only the number of “views” of a video (that is, when the video was watched for three or more seconds). And so the miscalculation overstated this metric. While this is only one of the many metrics marketers look at, we take any mistake seriously.”

He went on to say they had informed their partners and have since apologised. Earlier on, IO had said they aplologised sort of and that’s because Mr. Fischer says they have found that this has no impact on video numbers we have shared in the past, such as time spent watching video or the number of video views. 

Some are not satisfied with this because you see, it went on for two years and is just being reported now. One of such unhappy stakeholder is the ad buying agency Publicis Media which told the Wall Street Journal that “this once again illuminates the absolute need to have 3rd party tagging and verification on Facebook’s platform. Two years of reporting inflated performance numbers is unacceptable.” You can understand their anger because they have big clients who rely on the data they report back to plan how much to spend on video ads for example and on what platform to spend that money. There are other big names like Instagram, Snapchat (now Snap Inc) YouTube, Twitter who are all courting the advert dollars. Publicis was responsible for purchasing roughly $77 billion in ads on behalf of marketers around the world in 2015.

But Facebook in the post said they discovered this error a month ago and have since corrected it but whether this would impact their revenue going forward remains to be seen as they still remain the largest single social network by numbers. Facebook has 1.7 billion users, 1 billion on Messenger and WhatsApp. Instagram which they bought in 2012 for $1b has over 500 million users.

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