Facebook Video — the New Inflategate — Won’t Go Away
[Updated on Tuesday in the "Facebook's Comments" subhead, to reflect a statement sent to Target Marketing after business hours on Monday.]
Facebook needs third-party oversight, says the Association of National Advertisers. This, because the social media network recently disclosed that its video view metrics have been vastly incorrect for more than two years. Facebook’s COO recently made a lengthy statement about the situation, emphasizing that advertisers never had to pay for video views and that the site does have third-party oversight. On Monday night, a Facebook spokesperson told Target Marketing the company is working with ANA on this issue.
In reporting on the video reporting error, though, the Wall Street Journal said marketers decided where to spend ad dollars largely based on that metric. The Association of National Advertisers also doubled-down on the third-party oversight request.
“Our understanding [is] that whatever Facebook offers are not MRC-approved metrics,” an ANA spokesman told Target Marketing via email on Thursday about the Media Rating Council measurements. “[The] statement stands.”
ANA hasn't yet returned Target Marketing's request Tuesday that the association respond to Facebook's Monday night comment.
“Facebook has not yet achieved the level of measurement transparency that marketers need and require,” reads an online statement dated Sept. 20 and updated on Thursday by Bob Liodice, president and CEO of ANA. “Specifically, Facebook metrics are not accredited by the Media Rating Council (MRC); accordingly, an audit of Facebook metrics has not been completed. With more than $6 billion of marketers’ media being directed to Facebook, we believe that it is time for them — and other such major media players — to be audited and accredited. That is the standard of accepted practice that marketers and agencies have relied on for decades.”
More Reasons Marketers Are Upset
Whether or not Facebook leaders believe marketers are making ad spend decisions based on video view metrics, they are, says the Wall Street Journal on Sept. 22.
Some marketers, though, had already been paying attention to the Facebook video metric’s shortcoming. Especially those who listened about the three-second rule detailed by Rand Fishkin, founder and former CEO of Seattle-based SEO software provider Moz, on Sept. 8. Speaking at the Content Marketing World 2016 session in Cleveland, he said Facebook counted views of three seconds, while YouTube waits for 30 seconds.
The WSJ explains on Sept. 22: “For the past two years, Facebook only counted video views of more than three seconds when calculating its ‘Average Duration of Video Viewed’ metric. Video views of under three seconds were not factored in; thereby inflating the average. Facebook’s new metric, ‘Average Watch Time,’ will reflect video views of any duration. That will replace the earlier metric.”
Marketers should feel confident in Facebook’s ad value, emphasized Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on Tuesday at Advertising Week in New York.
On Monday night, a Facebook representative emailed a Facebook spokesperson's statement to Target Marketing.
“We are currently in dialogue with the ANA about how we can work more closely together," according to the Facebook spokesperson. "Trust and transparency with our partners are paramount to the operation of our company. Our focus has always been on driving business results for our clients, and we strongly believe in third-party verification. We have a history of working with industry leaders including Nielsen, Moat and comScore - and we continue to explore more partnerships.”
Speaking Tuesday about the controversy during a panel titled “Leadership in a Mobile World,” Sandberg addressed the video view metrics.
“Our success is about driving the business success of our partners,” Sandberg says.
“We need to move products off shelves,” she says, gesturing toward P&G CMO Marc Pritchard. Then speaking about GM CEO Mary Barra, Sandberg says, “We need to move cars off lots, and we need to do that in an efficient way — because their time and money is precious and they need to do it where they get the highest ROI.
“What happened on our video view metrics,” Sandberg continues, “which has been in the press over the last bunch of days, is about a month ago, we discovered a mistake in how we were counting video views. It’s just one metric. It wasn’t a metric advertisers were buying on. We weren’t doing any billing, so it didn’t affect revenue directly, but we take every mistake very seriously.
“So when we figured it out, we went to our clients,” she says. “We explained the mistake that we had made and corrected it. This is also why we offer third-party metrics and third-party measurement. One of the announcements we’ve had around AdWeek is deeper measurement with deeper partnerships so that we can, not just create our own homework, but have other people do it. I think where all of this heads, though, for this audience is, ‘What metrics are we measuring?’ Because the ad world has long lived in a world of ad metrics: ad recall, brand affinity, ad retention, intent to purchase. All of these things are great. Video views. They’re all great and they’re all important, and we will keep measuring them and we will do everything we can to get it right and use third parties to measure.
“But they’re all proxy metrics,” Sandberg says. “What these people care about is cars off lots and products off shelves, and really the environment didn’t let us measure the real stuff, because you could only measure the impact of an ad. And so I think what everyone’s most interested in in this audience is, ‘How do we test — these people saw an ad, these people didn’t. What happened to sales?’”
What do you think, marketers?
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