Facebook apologizes for video metric miscalculation

Gelo Gonzales
The social network assures users it has corrected the formula for calculating 'average duration of video viewed'

CLEAR VIEW. Mark Zuckerberg's company acknowledges that earning partner trust requires transparency. Photo by Tobias Schwarz/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Facebook apologized Friday, September 23, for giving clients overestimated figures for a key video metric for several years now. 

“We sincerely apologize for the issues this has created for our clients. This error should not stand in the way of our ultimate goal, which is to do what’s in the best interest of our partners and their business growth,” Facebook vice president for business and marketing partnerships David Fischer said.

The apology, published on a blog, came as a response to a report by The Wall Street Journal that the social media giant had been overestimating a key video metric, the “average duration of video viewed.” 

The metric was inaccurate because of an inaccurate formula: Facebook arrived at the number by dividing the total time spent watching a video by total number of “views.” In Facebook’s definition, a video watched by at least 3 seconds counts as a view. 

In its apology, Facebook explained how the metric should have been calculated: “The metric should have reflected the total time spent watching a video divided by the total number of people who played the video.”

The erring mathematical syntax – in use for two years already – took into account a smaller subgroup, resulting in bigger numbers. Specifically: 60 to 80% bigger, according to The Wall Street Journal report. 

Facebook said the issue has been fixed. It added that it has verified that other metrics are unaffected, and reassured businesses and other partners that they will be transparent in matters like these.

Reassuring for partners is the fact that third-party video verification options from the likes of Nielsen and Moat are supported by Facebook’s advertising dashboard. Facebook encouraged marketers to make use of these options to help them verify numbers and figures. – Rappler.com

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.