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Facebook recently came under fire for “miscalculating” certain video view figures, stats, and metrics. The oversight dates back two years and results in an overestimation or inflation of Facebook’s “average duration of video viewed.”
While some media outlets have sought to clarify what Facebook’s miscalculation of a key video metric means, others are calling for a change in how tightly Facebook guards its data from third party measurements, a universal measurement system across all platforms, and raising concern for advertisers and publishers who have spent copious amounts of their budgets on Facebook video.
As advertisers and publishers discern what the ramifications of Facebook’s video metric miscalculation, these are the top Facebook video stats likely to be affected and of particular interest to be aware of:
According to Bloomberg, Facebook and Google made nearly 65% of all online advertising revenue in 2015, with Facebook capturing $8 billion of the total advertising revenue in 2015 (compared with Google/YouTube’s $30 billion share of the U.S. digital advertising market).
At approximately 13% of the total digital advertising revenue generated in the United States, Facebook’s $8 billion in ad revenue represents a massive investment in Facebook advertising, and with good reason. About 50% of the total U.S. population (166 million people) now access Facebook at least once per month, according to eMarketer, and social media audiences are spending more time on the network than ever before (see Facebook Video Stat #5).
Related Post: The 11 Biggest Facebook Video Statistics For 2016
Facebook is striving to become the world’s leading video platform, a pivot made apparent by the network’s prioritization of video on users’ news feeds and recent launches of new digital video features like Facebook Live. In Facebook’s quarterly earnings report, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg even explicitly stated the network’s new focus, saying: “We see a world that is video first with video at the heart of all of our apps and services” (Business Insider).
For advertisers looking to target Facebook’s enormous user base, the emphasis on video content is significant. Facebook now generates 100 million hours of daily video watch time from more than 500 million Facebook users every day, according to Re/code, though some advertisers and publishers may call these numbers into question in light of Facebook’s recent mishap with a key video metric.
Related Post: The Top 3 Facebook Trends Disrupting Social Media
In a recent blog post, Facebook’s vice president of business and marketing partnerships David Fischer shared a troubling insight: for at least the last two years, Facebook has been “miscalculating” the average duration of each video, dividing the total time of video views by the number of videos watched for 3 seconds or more instead of the total number of videos viewed (regardless of how long it was watched).
According to the Wall Street Journal, this error may have inflated the “average duration of videos viewed” metric on advertisers’ dashboard by up to 80%, a disconcerting revelation for advertisers who have been pouring ad dollars into Facebook video as a result of artificially high engagement rates. YouTube content creator Hank Green (of VlogBrothers fame) best summed up the problem with Facebook’s flub in a Medium post:
“[Facebook’s error is] a problem for creators trying to standardize rates for brand integrations, for agencies and brands trying to understand this constantly shifting landscape, and for everyone who wants a little more stability in the online video industry.”
Facebook’s video view overestimation could mean that most videos weren’t being watched for nearly as long as advertisers assumed, yet another disturbing realization for the network’s 4 million advertisers. TechCrunch’s simple arithmetic reveals that, when you divide Facebook’s 100 million hours of video watched per day by a reported 8 billion daily views, you get about 45 seconds per view.
But if the definition of how Facebook measures a “view” is wrong and the metric that measures video duration is off by 60%–80%, are the videos actually being watched for only 30 seconds?
For advertisers, a 15-second discrepancy may have a huge impact on future video investment decisions, especially if the Facebook’s corrected metric reveals much lower video view durations than previously reported.
Users spend close to an hour each day on Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook), and Facebook Messenger (excludes Facebook-owned messaging app, WhatsApp). As explained in The New York Times, Facebook’s growth is an anomaly—”usually, when a platform expands its user base, the average time spent goes down, because a lot of new people aren’t that active.”
Not so with Facebook. It seems the social network giant is not only continuously growing its massive user base (presently at 1.71B monthly active users) but also discovering innovative ways to retain and also augment time spent on Facebook. From 2014 to 2015, Facebook has increased the average time spent on its platform and apps by a significant 25%, up from 40 minutes.
With Facebook’s recent push with Facebook Video, Live, and Facebook content creator initiatives, it’s clear the social network is looking to further growth through video, mobile, and social media influencers.