Facebook admits to flubbing more metrics, outlines potential fixes

Dive Brief:

  • Facebook revealed in a blog post Friday afternoon that there are discrepancies in how it measures data on Facebook Live, the platform’s video streaming feature, and for likes, comments and shares on mobile Facebook posts. The metrics errors are in addition to others previously reported regarding video views and organic reach. 
  • For Live insights, the company said it “misallocated the extra reactions per user” during broadcasts to the “Reactions from Shares of Post” metric instead of to the appropriate “Reactions on Post” metric. Starting mid-December, the social network hopes to address the issue, which it expects will increase "Reactions on Post" numbers by 500% on average and decrease them on "Reactions from Shares of Post" by 25% on average. The update will only apply to new Live videos.
  • On mobile likes, comments and shares, the company also discovered a discrepancy between the counts for the like and share buttons via its Graph API. Facebook said there “may be a difference between what these metrics count and what the mobile search query counts.”

Dive Insight:

While Facebook has clearly embarked on a new era of transparency as it tries to subdue the concern that has arisen in the aftermath of a recent series of metric mistake revelations, these latest admissions are likely to only further undermine the social media giant's relationship with the marketing industry. 

"It's freaking everybody out," a top ad agency exec recently told Ad Age under conditions of anonymity. "It's hard to explain to clients."

Compared to the competition, Facebook has traditionally been particularly cagey about keeping data and information within its own walled ecosystem, but it has repeatedly shown this year that this is not an area where it excels, much to the consternation of marketers and their ad buyers. After previous miscalculations came to light in November, Facebook apologized and promised more transparency when it comes to measurement failures. Today’s post in regards to Live doubles as the launch of a new series called Metrics FYI, which hopes to keep advertisers up to date on how the platform is handling their data, similar to how News Feed FYI posts have in the past.

It has been a disastrous second-half for Facebook in terms of how the platform measures advertiser data: First through revelations in September that the social network overinflated viewership metrics on video by anywhere from 60% to 80% since 2014; then in November through new findings on miscalculations pertaining to organic page reach, under-counting video watches and over-reporting time spent on Instant Articles and now through the metric discrepancies on Facebook Live and mobile shareability.

Facebook also wound down ad serving via its Atlas platform just a few weeks ago to better focus on its measurement issues.  

Follow on Twitter

Filed Under: Social Media Analytics Corporate News
Top image credit: Facebook