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Marketing

What Facebook’s inflated video ad metric means for marketers

Facebook revealed earlier this month that it has been overestimating the average viewing time of video ads on its platform for two years. By only factoring in views of more than three seconds, the social media giant artificially inflated the average time consumers spend watching a video ad by 60-80 per cent, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This huge miscalculation means marketers may have to reconsider the impact of video ads they placed on Facebook in the past. But does it have broader implications for marketers’ increasing investment in video?

More and more advertising dollars have been going to video advertising in recent years. The Interactive Advertising Bureau found that Australian advertisers plan to spend $10 million on digital and mobile video ads in 2016, an 85 per cent increase over the $5.5 million spent in 2014, when Facebook launched autoplay video advertising.

Although Facebook undoubtedly played a key role in driving this spending, other platforms are now competing for marketers’ video ad budgets. Pinterest recently jumped on the digital video ad bandwagon, and Google offers TrueView ads on YouTube to compete directly with television advertising.

These developments are likely due to consumers’ increasing interest in video content in general. Last year, video accounted for 57 per cent of consumer internet traffic, and 400 hours of video were uploaded to YouTube every minute. With Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter now all supporting video, marketers will continue to look for ways to reach customers on this channel.

So while the Facebook debacle likely won’t reduce overall investment in video advertising, it does highlight the need for greater transparency of ad performance. Facebook and Google only allow a few third-party tracking firms to verify their results, and even then, most marketers don’t have access to the raw data that goes into the metrics that are verified.

As the chief marketing officer at Unilever Keith Weed told the Wall Street Journal, “tech companies that don’t let third parties measure their platforms is equivalent to ‘letting them mark their own homework’.”

Meanwhile, Facebook said it has since fixed its metric to reflect the real average viewing time of video ads.

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