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Facebook admits more measurement errors in organic reach, video, Instant Articles and referrals

Facebook has admitted to a slew of errors in some of its metric reporting after admitting in August it had been vastly overestimating its video view lengths.

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The social media platform has now admitted to at least four more miscalculations of metrics it uses to measure how content performs.

While these issues may not have impacted the amount spent by marketers or media companies on the platform directly, they may have helped to influence decisions around overall spend by skewing campaign outcomes.

In an update on the Facebook business site, the company said: “Today we’re updating our metrics to give our partners and the industry more clarity and confidence about the insights we provide.

“We know that having access to reliable metrics is important to the millions of partners who use our services to growth their business.”

Facebook has revealed it has “uncovered a bug in Page Insights” which has seen organic reach figures miscalculated “as a simple sum of daily reach instead of de-dupilicating visitors” over the 7-day or 28-day period.

The de-duplicated 7-day and 28-day summary will be 33% and 55% lower respectively.

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According to the platform, the “vast majority of reach data in the Page Insights dashboard” was unaffected, with paid reach also unaffected.

Facebook has also said it was miscalculating how it was counting when a video is watched to the conclusion.

The social media platform said the issue was due to audio and video tracks not lining up due to differences between video players and devices and meant when someone watched a video to completion the audio may continue to play for a bit longer meaning it wasn’t counted as “video watches at 100%”.

The miscalculation could result “in roughly a 35% increase in the count of ‘video watches at 100%'”.

Facebook’s Instant Articles platform, which rolled out to local publishers at the end of last year,  has been over-reporting average time spent per article by around 7-8%.

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Facebook said: “This was caused by a calculation error: we were calculating the average across a histogram of time spent, instead of reflecting the total time spent reading an article divided by its total views”.

The platform has said it has now fixed the issue.

Another metric plagued by issues is “Referrals” which evaluates all posts produced by people via an app or website with Facebook saying it “meant to count clicks that went directly to an app or website” however it “also counted other clicks on those posts via the app or website, including clicks to view photos or videos.”

Facebook is working to fix this problem which for “power users” of the metric, referrals have been overstated by approximately 6% on average.

The social media platform has also announced it will be retiring Interest Lists due to “low consumer usage” which “will result in a drop in the total number of followers for profiles that created interest lists or were featured in lists”.

Facebook has announced several updates to improve its reporting which are “intended to make information clearer and easier to use”.

It has also said it is “exploring additional third-party reviews to validate the reporting we offer partners”.

“We’re also launching the ability to verify display impression data through our third-party viewability verification partners, including Moat, IAS, and comScore. This integration addresses requests we’ve received from partners for independent measurement of the amount of time ads are viewed on-screen,” Facebook said.

“For publishers, we’re partnering with Nielsen to include Facebook video and Facebook Live viewership in Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings (DCR). This will give publishers access to third-party verification for video metrics and allow for comparable digital and TV metrics in Nielsen’s Total Audience Measurement.”

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