Facebook has admitted to misleading advertisers on key metrics for the third time in as many months.
On this occasion it’s a discrepancy between the number of likes and shares Facebook shows for web links, and also issues with the number of likes and reaction emojis that page owners see for their live videos.
In the first case in September it was revealed that the social network had been inflating a key video viewing metric for years.
In the second case, there were multiple errors:
- A bug in Page Insights with the weekly and monthly summaries miscalculating the total numbers without taking into consideration the repeat visitors. This brought a reduced reach of 33% for the 7-day summary and 55% for the 28-day summary. According to Facebook, this didn’t affect the paid reach.
- A small miscalculation to the length of the videos, with a difference of one to two seconds in the final result, due to occasional problems of syncing the audio and the video to each device.
- There was an over-reporting of 7-8% on the time spent on Instant Articles since last August. Facebook reported that this issue is now fixed.
- The “Referrals” metrics on Facebook Analytics for Apps was also miscalculated, as it didn’t simply track the links to the app or the site, but also the clicks to the posts via the app or the site, which also included the clicks to view photos and videos.
Facebook should be given credit for being upfront about its mistakes and rectifying its errors. But the more measurement errors and corrections it discloses, the more difficult it becomes to trust Facebook’s measurements.
It’s a dilemma that some brands and agencies have been wrestling with for a while, and it’s one that may not subside until Facebook allows independent firms to directly measure these previously faulty stats, rather than relying on Facebook for the raw, corrected data.
If Facebook ends the walled garden then many of these problems go away.