Facebook video stats come into question

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The CEO of Digital Content Next took to Twitter on Oct. 17 to expound upon parts of court filings alleging that Facebook knew for a year of mistakes in the way it measured video metrics and failed to promptly disclose the problems.

Jason Kint spent the morning exchanging opinion with other leaders from various digital industries, many of them upset after recalling how many writers were fired to make space for video producers during the great “pivot to video” migration in 2015 and 2016. Digital Content Next is a trade organization representing online publishers.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the lawsuit on Oct. 16, the same day it was filed in California by a group of advertisers. Suzanne Vranica reported the plaintiffs reviewed 80,000 pages of obtained internal Facebook records they claim showed “… a company mentality of reckless indifference toward the accuracy of its metrics.” Facebook responded by saying the lawsuit is without merit and moved to dismiss it, saying “Suggestions that we in any way tried to hide this issue from our partners are false. We told our customers about the error when we discovered it—and updated our help center to explain the issue.”

The Journal takes credit for a September 2016 report of its own doing, claiming the central problem is that Facebook vastly overestimated the average viewing time for Facebook video ads. Facebook itself admitted they were overestimating by 60 to 80 percent. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are claiming inflation by 150 to 900 percent.

This mishandling of metrics and the delay in correcting and communicating the problem, if true, puts a hurt on the already-eroded trust with the public, as well as the marketers who place ads on Facebook and pay its bills. This year spending on online video ads is expected to grow to $27.8 billion, according to The Journal.

Tim Marchman, special projects editor at Gizmodo, tweeted “You might wonder just how accidental this was, given that it had the effect of making newsrooms and advertisers massively misallocate resources, making them even more reliant on Facebook.”

Media Editor at Buzzfeed Craig Silverman lamented the continued communications missteps by Facebook by saying “This has happened so many times that we need to start numbering this shit like Star Wars movies” on a retweet of The Journal’s article.

Author: Sean Yoder, Hello Social Co.