Here we go again: Facebook estimates “bug” overstated unique reach by 55%

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November 17, 2016 by Paul Dughi

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Facebook announced yet more problems with its own metrics.  They call it a bug, but in light of the recent admission that video views were incorrectly reported for a two-year period, it’s one more confidence shaker for Facebook’s platform for the people spending money on FB.  When people are spending $6 billion dollars a quarter in advertising, I think they deserve to have accurate measurement.

Give them some credit for bringing these to light.  Some of the items are small enough that not many – if any – would have ever noticed it.  With the video count mess, I’m sure the last thing FB wanted to do was admit to more problems, but it has.

The bug is on one of the Pages dashboards.  Here’s Facebook’s explanation:

On one of our Pages dashboards, one summary number showing 7-day or 28-day organic page reach was miscalculated as a simple sum of daily reach instead of de-duplicating repeat visitors over those periods (see red circle in screenshot below). However, the vast majority of reach data in the Page Insights dashboard (marked green in screenshots below) was unaffected, including all the graphs, daily and historical reach, per-post reach, exported and API reach data, and all data on the Reach tab. The de-duplicated 7-day summary in the overview dashboard will be 33% lower on average and 28-day will be 55% lower; data in other fields is unaffected. This bug has been live since May; we will be fixing this in the next few weeks. It does not affect paid reach. – Facebook Business

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It’s kind of an obscure thing, but it’s not the first time Facebook has had problems with accurate metrics.

Facebook now says it’s redefining Reach counts.  Historically, it defined reach as “a person refreshing their News Feed and the post being places in their fees.”  That means it was counted whether viewed or not.  With the change, reach count will now be based on “viewable impressions.”  Facebook estimates that counting it this way will lower your reach count by 20%… in other words, its previous method over-estimated reach counts by 20%… unless you thought counting something as “reach” included people who never scrolled down the page to see something.

For paid ads reports, we’ve moved to a stricter definition that only counts reach once the post enters the person’s screen (“viewable impressions”). With the stricter definition, we estimate that reported reach will be 20% lower on average.  – Facebook Business

Other problems Facebook has found:

  • Facebook says it undercounted the metric “video watches at 100%” on some videos where the video and audio didn’t line up. FB expects a 35% lift in the video watched at 100% counts.
  • Time Spent on Instant Articles was over-reported by 7-8% on average since August of last year.
  • In the FB analytics for Apps, one metric called Referrals is miscalculated. For “power users” of this metric, it find referrals have been overstated by approximately 6%.

In addition to addressing these problems, Facebook also announced several updates to clarify ad reporting.

RELATED
How Internet Video Views metrics can lie to you

View story at Medium.com

It’s time for full integration of third-party verification and measurement.    Here’s what Facebook says about that:

We believe strongly in third-party verification to prove the business value we’re driving for our partners, and we have a long history of working with global industry leaders like comScore, Moat, Nielsen, and Integral Ad Science (IAS). We’re now exploring additional third-party reviews to validate the reporting we offer partners. We’re also launching the ability to verify display impression data through our third-party viewability verification partners, including Moat, IAS, and comScore. This integration addresses requests we’ve received from partners for independent measurement of the amount of time ads are viewed on-screen.

For publishers, we’re partnering with Nielsen to include Facebook video and Facebook Live viewership in Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings (DCR). This will give publishers access to third-party verification for video metrics and allow for comparable digital and TV metrics in Nielsen’s Total Audience Measurement. – Facebook Business

 

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