Narrative: Facebook's Bad Metrics
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Narrative: Facebook’s Bad Metrics (Dec 27, 2016)
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Facebook Announces Yet Another Measurement Screwup (May 16, 2017)
This is yet another bit of damage control by Facebook in the wake of its metrics problems in late 2016, and the MRC partnership has been in the works for some time (see the full timeline on the “Facebook’s Bad Metrics” narrative page). It sounds like marketers are reassured by some of these moves, which combine better third party auditing with some new video ad buying options.
The other bit of news from Facebook today addresses the recent problems it’s had with unreliable metrics for advertisers and publishers. Some of this is just about providing more metrics for measuring performance on Facebook across various channels (Facebook, Instagram, and Audience Network within its own products can be compared with TV and/or print data from wider campaigns), but there’s also news on the third party verification front, which advertisers have been asking for. It now has deeper partnerships with Nielsen and ComScore, and is deepening its viewability measurement tools, as well as adding some additional partnerships. There’s lots here, the detail of which won’t be all that interesting unless you’re directly involved in this stuff, but Facebook is showing some promising willingness to open up more to outside measurement platforms its partners trust as a way of offsetting the embarrassing errors which turned up late last year.
Errors in Facebook ad metrics could lead to more independent audits – Silicon Valley Business Journal (Jan 19, 2017)
This is the fallout from Facebook’s series of admissions towards the end of 2016 about its metrics relating to both content and ad performance: major advertisers are now going to be calling for more third party auditing of ad performance on Facebook. To the extent that Facebook is already said to be working with some outside groups on this, that effort needs to accelerate and come to a rapid conclusion to satisfy advertisers. On the other hand, it’s also clear from the same survey that Facebook is far from the only company whose ad metrics are mistrusted by advertisers – only Google has the confidence of over 50% of buyers, while AOL has the confidence of just 26%. But having said all that, advertisers don’t seem to feel they have alternatives to the big two, on which they plan to continue spending more money this year than last.
Facebook said all the way back in November that it intended to form a measurement council to improve external oversight of its metrics and reporting. This is one of the first concrete signs that it’s moving towards better outside auditing, though it’s not an announced deal yet.
Facebook and not Twitter has mostly been in the news for misstating its metrics, but it’s clear that the latter isn’t immune. Although Facebook’s confessions have been embarrassing, it hasn’t had to refund advertisers, but it appears Twitter has, though only over a brief period due to a technical glitch.