Pivot to the Truth? Facebook Lied About Video Stats, Advertisers Say

Mae Love
October 20, 2018

According to a complaint filed Tuesday by advertisers, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Facebook was aware of problems in its measurement of video ads for more than a year before it finally got around to disclosing the issue.

An online marketing agency is suing Facebook, claiming it knowingly lied for over a year about its average video ad time stats and further lied about the extent of its miscalculations. Furthermore, its activity was described as "likely to deceive" advertisers.

"This lawsuit is without merit and we've filed a motion to dismiss these claims of fraud", a spokesperson said in a statement to the Daily News.

Facebook claims that it informed the customers just after the errors were discovered and updated their help center to explain the issue. 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".

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News of the lawsuit hit a nerve among media insiders late Tuesday, with some suggesting that Facebook's inflated metrics may have contributed to publishers firing writers and shifting their investments to video.

Back in 2016, it was revealed that Facebook had been misleading advertisers for two years due to a botched algorithm that overestimated viewing time averages by up to 80 percent. "For instance, Average Duration of Video Viewed would be replaced with Average Watch Time", the plaintiffs said. And you probably scroll right past these videos without even watching them! An investigation uncovered that the company had only been counting video views longer than three seconds long in its calculations. Then, it partnered with third-parties to verify and measure its metrics.

If Facebook inflated video stats by as much as 150% to 900%, it could affect the company's video ad business.

In 2016, the number that Facebook claimed that they calculated was the total time users spent watching a video divided by the total number of people who played the video.

Some are remarking that Facebook's inflated video numbers might have affected more than just advertisers.

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