Facebook’s ads boss, Carolyn Everson, admitted the company messed up in how it explained an error in the way it measured video viewership.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the social network had exaggerated its “average viewing time” metric by potentially as much as 80% for more than two years.
Several weeks before the article was published, Facebook had acknowledged in a post on its Advertiser Help Center that the metric had not included video views lasting fewer than 3-seconds. The company said it had informed its clients and that it had introduced a fix to provide a more accurate metric: “Average Watch Time.”
On stage at Advertising Week New York on Monday, Everson reiterated Facebook’s previous statements on the matter: “We did have an error. It was one of 14 [metrics] in our dashboard. We noticed it about a month ago and we immediately notified clients and agencies and corrected the error. Thankfully it did not have anything to do with advertising ROI [return on investment] or billing.”
Everson went on to explain how Facebook plans to do better in future.
“We should have just said in public that we found this error a month ago and made the correction, and not just called our clients and agencies,” she said.
Everson added that Facebook takes “great pride” in trust and transparency with its partners.
“Our promise is we will and need to do better.”
After the video view issue first emerged, Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of the world’s biggest advertising group WPP, which spent $1 billion of its clients’ money on Facebook last year, said the error highlighted the need for third-party measurement.
He said: “That’s why we invested in comScore and built a media measurement business in over 50 countries around the world. We have also been calling for a long time for media owners like Facebook and Google not to mark their own homework and release data to comScore to enable independent evaluation. The referee and player cannot be the same person.”
On Monday, Everson said: “Lastly, I also want to reiterate from a Facebook perspective that we deeply believe in third-party verification. Make no mistake: We don’t believe in simply grading our own homework.”
Everson said Facebook has been working with measurement company Nielsen for years, and video measurement firm Moat for over a year.
She also announced a number of new measurement partnerships, including with Nielsen Catalina, to help marketers measure their offline sales and Oracle Data Cloud, to enable small businesses to work out whether Facebook is the right platform for their advertising.