Facebook accused of withholding info on problems with video ad measurement

Lloyd Doyle
October 20, 2018

But when video content turned out not to be the goldmine many were told it was, they were forced to also lay off expensive video production staff. For example, in May 2017 it issued refunds to some advertisers after admitting that it told them people had clicked on their video ads even if those users were just trying to resize the video carousel. Or, did the company purposely twist data so more advertisers will invest on its platform? The allegation was included in newly public filings in a lawsuit brought by a group of small advertisers in California federal court in 2016, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Facebook knew that its video metrics were inflated for more than a year before it acknowledged the issue, with records showing that its average-viewership estimates were overstated by as much as 900 per cent, a new legal filing claims.

As a number of journalists have pointed out on Twitter today, video metrics from companies like Facebook prompted a number of media outlets to lay off print reporters and "pivot to video" in recent years, a strategy that has yet to pay off.

"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", David Fischer, a Facebook vice president, wrote. A lawsuit alleges that Facebook knew about the error earlier and that it went much deeper than they admitted.

The plaintiffs also said the inflation of the metrics ran to 150-900%, not 60-80%. "Facebook ignored reports from advertisers of aberrant results caused by Facebook's method of calculation".

Their case hinges on the fact that the numbers provided by Facebook meant advertisers put more money into its video ads than those on other platforms.


Facebook did not immediately respond to Ars' request for comment.

Facebook denies all these claims and has moved to dismiss the recently added fraud claims.

Facebook claims that it informed the customers just after the errors were discovered and updated their help center to explain the issue.

Facebook has applied new measures to verify with partners.

"Portal voice calling is built on the Messenger infrastructure, so when you make a video call on Portal, we collect the same types of information (i.e. usage data such as length of calls, frequency of calls) that we collect on other Messenger-enabled devices", a company spokesperson was quoted as saying.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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