What Facebook's miscalculated metrics mean for marketers

Facebook again admitted that it provided inaccurate metrics to its advertising and publishing partners, but the company also promised a number of fixes to the problem.

For the second time in as many months, Facebook admitted it misreported the metrics it provides to publishers and marketers to measure reach and engagement on their posts. The world's largest social network again blamed "bugs" for the discrepancies that resulted in undercounting or over-reporting of metrics related to marketers' posts and video views, as well as the time spent on publishers' Instant Articles. In late September, Facebook told its marketer customers that it had over-reported video metrics for two years.

Facebook said the new errors do not impact billing, and it has implemented new measures, including independent review and third-party verification, to allay concerns among the company's more than 3 million advertisers and publishers.

Marketers lack leverage to pressure Facebook

The latest revelations likely weigh on the confidence of Facebook's publishing and marketing partners, but they don't have much leverage to pressure Facebook, according to Jenny Sussin, research director at Gartner. "This may give them more negotiating room with any Facebook enterprise contracts for ads, but when the network itself is so valuable it's not like people can leave and go somewhere else," she says.

Jessica Liu, senior analyst at Forrester Research, expects these problems to continue, and the company's perceived value among marketers will diminish as a result of metrics snafus, she says. "Marketers believed that Facebook was effective but now, because calculations are misaligned, marketers aren't sure of Facebook's value and regress to operating in a social media black box circa 2010."

Facebook will lose marketers' trust as it admits to more of these issues but, and Facebook will have to assume more responsibility as it grows ever larger in reach and influence, according to Liu. "To regain trust, Facebook must incorporate data transparency and governance."

Facebook promises third-party verification of metrics

Facebook said it will provide new data for display ads from third-party measurement firms, such as Moat and Integral Ad Science. The company also plans to partner with Nielsen to quantify on-demand and live-video views. Finally, Facebook said it plans to organize a "measurement council" of outside marketers and advertising executives to provide more frequent updates about the accuracy of its measurement systems.

Marketers have every right to feel disillusioned about Facebook's lack of transparency, despite its effectiveness in connecting brands with customers, but those marketers are also to blame, according to Liu. They shouldn't have taken Facebook's metrics at face value, Liu says, and she criticizes the ad industry for following Facebook's nonstandard framework for metrics. "Marketers must do a better job of asking fundamental questions about their metrics," Liu says. "Basic accuracy questions will create clarity and engender confidence."

The entire ad industry is culpable for measuring "superficial metrics" for years, as well. according to Gartner's Sussin. "As we've always said, volume is nice but actually getting a customer to your site, filling out a lead form or making a purchase" are the outcomes companies should be tracking, she says. "Facebook insights can get you part of the way, but if that was all you were ever measuring the odds are you didn't know what the real impact of your social strategy was anyway."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments
cmo-xs-promo

Latest Videos

More Videos

who wants to date me I am 9 years old and i am a boy

Jeremy Hawkins

Sink a sub gaming experience signals Subway's renewed brand push

Read more

Great read. I agree that it should be a perfect balance between interacting with your customers and knowing your brand. As a business, yo...

Caroline Scott

7 ways CMOs can improve their customer engagement game

Read more

Very true. Team development helps improve collaboration among the team members. I was able to improve my team's collaboration skills by t...

Quent Sinder

Why empowering others can help make you a great leader

Read more

CRM is a very good software that can help you succeed in your business. In my company, this system has allowed me to improve customer rel...

Anna Janicka

Sensis rebrands to Thryv and brings business software to Australian SMBs

Read more

AI Leasing Assistants have finally arrived for the multifamily industry. With so many to choose from it can be hard to figure out which i...

Alice Labs Pte. Ltd.

CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 6 May 2021

Read more

Blog Posts

Unboxing 101 - How savvy influencer engagement can build a brand

The humble unboxing video is a powerful tool. Correctly executed, it harnesses consumer fandom, viral authenticity and brand design magic to deliver a high-impact message to a tightly targeted cohort of consumers.

Gali Arnon

Chief marketing officer, Fiverr

​Power to the people

Purpose is the ultimate statement of intent for many organisations. Why are we here? What are we trying to achieve?

Rich Curtis

CEO, FutureBrand A/NZ

The playbook to develop strategic brand moats

Warren Buffet is an unlikely ally for marketers. But his belief businesses need strategic moats that increase their value in the market while acting as barriers to competitors can offer marketers a new playbook for brand building and driving growth.

Fabian Di Marco

Founder and managing director, Tzu & Co

Sign in