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Oops Facebook’s done it again

Oops Facebook’s done it again

Facebook always knew that it would have to win the hearts, minds and wallets of advertisers if it was ever to have any hope of becoming a commercially-successful, independent company. It has therefore been working hard to persuade companies of all sizes that social media in general and Facebook (and Instagram) in particular, are the best place for their advertising and marketing budget. Unfortunately, it appears that Facebook got a little ahead of itself in terms of measuring its performance and giving its customers the data they need to make informed decisions.

Average duration of videos viewed

Video is huge in online marketing and it’s therefore vital to know which videos are being viewed for how long. Facebook miscalculated this over a two-year period, finally informing its customers of the mistake in late summer this year and implementing a fix shortly afterwards. The seriousness of this error can be seen by the fact that it was extensively reported in the Wall Street Journal as well as in the marketing trade press (and websites). A few months later, Facebook had to admit to another batch of measuring issues, most of which it has now fixed. In fairness, none of these were perceived to be as serious as the video issue, but the errors would have raised eyebrows even without the fact that they came after such a significant miscalculation. Then, about a week ago, it came to light that there was another batch of measuring problems, again, not as serious as the video issue, but more than enough to generate caustic headlines in the marketing press and, we would suspect, some choice remarks from their customers.

How did Facebook’s mistakes go undetected for so long?

The short answer to this question is that we’ll probably never know. The point of contention for advertisers and marketers, however, is that Facebook, like Google, has long been “marking its own homework” by declining to allow external agencies to verify its data. Over recent months, Facebook has started to move towards a more transparent way of operating, although it could be argued that at this point it has little option since it badly needs to salvage its credibility with the people who pay its bills. It will be interesting to see whether this change actually becomes a selling point in Facebook’s battle with Google. The fact still remains, however, that digital statistics are currently very vulnerable to manipulation, either by the platform’s themselves (through accident or design) or by malicious users.

What does this mean in practice?

As we’ve said before, we’re big fans of the internet and see the value of having a website and a social media presence. We also see the value of using leaflet delivery in London to connect local businesses with local customers in their own home. This is, basically, the only way you’re guaranteed to reach all the relevant people in your service area and only those people. It also gives you solid data about your results. As we’ve said before and we’ll probably say again, the letter box is future proof.