Video ad metrics issue was known one year before disclosure

Oct 17, 2018 19:38 GMT  ·  By  ·  Comment  · 
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Following multiple security incidents it was involved in, now Facebook has to deal with yet another problem: an amendment filed to a 2015 lawsuit saying that Menlo Park knew about their video-ad metrics misreporting problem for more than a year.

Facebook's initial disclosure from 2016 of the erroneous ad metrics for the video ads displayed on their platform said that they "recently discovered" an issue where they had overestimated the time spent by users watching video ads by 60 to 80%.

A complaint filed by a number of small advertisers says that Facebook actually knew about the ad metrics misreporting a year before the disclosure and that the viewership count was inflated by 150 to 900%.

"In addition to Facebook knowing about the problem far longer than previously acknowledged, Facebook’s records also show that the impact of its miscalculation was much more severe than reported," says the complaint. "The average viewership metrics were not inflated by only 60%-80%; they were inflated by some 150 to 900%."

As claimed by the lawsuit, Facebook used obfuscation tactics to hide the tampered-with video-ad viewership numbers from advertisers

Furthermore, "Facebook did not discover its mistake one month before its public announcement. Facebook engineers knew for over a year, and multiple advertisers had reported aberrant results caused by the miscalculation (such as 100% average watch times for their video ads)," according to the same complaint. "Yet Facebook did nothing to stop its dissemination of false metrics."

In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, a Facebook spokesperson said that the suggestions made in the complaint about Menlo Park trying to hide the video-add metrics issue are just allegations.

Moreover, Facebook also notified all their customers about the video ads viewership miscalculation and updated their help center to provide a detailed explanation of the issue.

The complaint, however, claims that according to a Facebook engineer "[..] even once it was decided to take action on the metrics, Facebook did not promptly fix its calculation or disclose that the calculation was wrong. Instead, it continued reporting miscalculated viewership metrics for another several months, as it developed a ‘no PR’ strategy to avoid drawing attention to the error."

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