Facebook in fresh video metrics row

Cornelia Mascio
Ottobre 18, 2018

"We told our customers about the error when we discovered it - and updated our help centre to explain the issue", it said in a statement.

In reality, the company only included those who had viewed a video for three seconds or more when calculating this metric, leaving out everyone who clicked away before three seconds.

Marketers who are suing Facebook over allegations of inflated video metrics say the company's errors were worse than it previously acknowledged.

Facebook developed a "no PR" strategy to avoid drawing attention to the error, according to the court filing. The average viewership metrics were not inflated by only 60-80 percent; they were inflated by some 150-900 percent.

The new filing, based off of 80,000 pages of internal documents, claims that in September 2016 Facebook only had two engineers dedicated to fixing measurement errors.

Now, those claimants have filed an amended complaint.

According to Crowd Siren, an online marketing agency, Facebook knew about the misinterpreted figures in early 2015, but disclosed it only in 2016 where it said the average view time was inflated by 60 percent to 80 percent and it impacted unpaid posts, Ad Age reportedw.

But the unsealed version of the amended complaint, which wasn't made publicly available until Tuesday, includes more details about the fraud claims.

An October 5, 2018 filing by one of Facebook's attorneys, Michelle Ybarra, reiterated the company's argument that the case should be dismissed as the advertisers did not adequately demonstrate that they "actually relied on the metrics at issue".

The plaintiffs went on to say that "multiple advertisers had reported aberrant results caused by the miscalculation", but the social network "did nothing" to stop the spread of its incorrect metrics. In it, the plaintiffs say that, as part of the discovery from their lawsuit, they have learned that Facebook's "action rises to the level of fraud and may warrant punitive damages".

"About a month ago, we found an error in the way we calculate one of the video metrics on our dashboard-average duration of video viewed", David Fischer, a Facebook vice president, wrote. The now-filed lawsuit alleges that this allowed the company to inflate average watch metrics by up to 900%. Among other sources, the suit drew on a report by industry group Video Advertising Bureau showing that Facebook's audience reach estimates in every U.S. state were higher than the states' actual populations according to the USA census.

"Suggestions that we in any way tried to hide this issue from our partners are false", a Facebook spokeswoman reportedly said.

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