Advertisers Accuse Facebook of Knowingly Overestimating Video Viewing

Marco Green
October 18, 2018

"We told our customers about the error when we discovered it-and updated our help center to explain the issue", a spokeswoman said.

The controversy dates back to September 2016, when the Journal reported that Facebook had been overestimating average video ad viewing times for two years.

A lawsuit reported on by the Wall Street Journal alleges that Facebook was aware of issues on how the site measured views of video ads for more than a year before it disclosed the issue in 2016.

Facebook grossly inflated video viewership metrics and then lied to advertisers about it, new court filings against the embattled social media giant allege.

Facebook also said at the time that the error didn't affect billings.

Early previous year, Facebook agreed to have the Media Rating Council audit its ad metrics, and it now also shows advertisers independent analysis from third-party measurement firms.

Meanwhile, the filing further claims that the problem was more severe than previously reported. "The average viewership metrics were not inflated by only 60%-80%; they were inflated by some 150 to 900%".

The skewed metrics did not relate to paid advertisements, but they could have misled brands into thinking that Facebook (fb) was a livelier video platform than it actually was, and some small advertisers sued the platform following its admission. The latest filing came shortly after the advertiser's review of 80,000 pages of internal Facebook records.

Facebook hid a flaw in its video-advertising metrics that overestimated viewer engagement for more than a year in an effort to entice and keep advertisers on its platform, according to a lawsuit filed by a group of advertisers. Facebook claimed it calculated the "average duration of video viewed" by dividing the total time users' spent watching a video by the total number people who watched it.

But the unsealed version of the amended complaint, which wasn't made publicly available until Tuesday, includes more details about the fraud claims.

"The lawsuit is without merit and we've filed a motion to dismiss these claims of fraud", a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "Yet Facebook did nothing to stop its dissemination of false metrics", the marketers allege in the amended complaint, filed with U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland. "Suggestions that we in any way tried to hide this issue from our partners are false", the company says.

However, online marketing agency Crowd Siren's Tuesday complaint claims that Facebook knew about the inflated metrics as early as 2015, according to Bloomberg.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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