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From a marketing perspective, the importance of Facebook video advertising cannot be overstated. In a recent post, we determined that the total number of Facebook videos has increased 94%, year-on-year, and eMarketer estimates that 66% of marketers will invest in Facebook video ads in the next 12 months.
Last week, however, Facebook admitted that it’s shared inflated and/or miscalculated video view metrics for two years, leading some media outlets and marketers to call Facebook’s trustworthiness into question. While Facebook’s error (accidental or not) hasn’t sent advertisers running for the hills just yet, how this revelation will impact future investment in Facebook video advertising remains to be seen.
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Online video advertising is one of the fastest growing marketing channels, with over 60% of brands planning to increase digital video budgets in the next 12 months and spending on online video projected to jump by 30% from 2015 to 2016. Facebook’s large, diverse audience—around 50% of all U.S. internet users and 91% of Millennials are on Facebook, according to eMarketer—makes it the ideal platform for digital video investment, both through native video ads and influencer marketing initiatives.
A recent Facebook blog posts regarding a miscalculation in how the social network measures the average duration of videos views has led to a slew of articles from top media outlets, all voicing concerns about the true nature of Facebook video advertising and raising an important question: should advertisers be worried about Facebook’s latest admission of error?
According to TechCrunch, Facebook has been accidentally misleading marketers for the last two years by failing to include videos that were viewed for under three seconds when factoring average view time per video.
Because Facebook counts a video “view” at three seconds or more, this reporting error could have inflated the “average time spent watching videos by between 60% and 80%” (Wall Street Journal) and led advertisers to believe that their videos were being watched for much longer than they actually were.
Facebook has said newer metrics will reflect the total videos viewed (instead of counting only the ones that reach the three-second mark), but the news could have an impact on where future advertising budgets will be allocated (Bloomberg).
On a grander scale, Facebook’s flub reignites the debate over whether the “walled gardens” of social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube should be subject to 3rd-party measurement/verification and if a standardized way to assess the performance of social video campaigns is feasible and/or desirable (Digiday).
In a word: no. While the network’s metric measurement misstep may dent marketers’ confidence in Facebook’s advertising platform and, more painfully, in their own ability to create engaging digital video ads, Facebook is simply too large for advertisers to avoid.
Though one can and should expect a renewed call for a better, more independent monitoring and measuring system, it’s unrealistic to think that any marketing professional would choose to forfeit access to the network’s 1.7 billion users, even for such an egregious and potentially disastrous reporting error as this (TechCrunch).