Facebook’s Miscalculations and the Future of Online Video

Is everything we know about Facebook’s analytics a lie?

Probably not.

Recently, the social media company came clean on the fact that they have been vastly overestimating advertisers average video view times for the past two years. Essentially, the problem boils down to a discrepancy between how view times were measured and how they were defined in analytic reporting. Facebook chose to only factor in video views longer than three seconds but said it represented the average of all views. This “miscalculation” naturally caused an enormous inflation of data, according to the Wall Street Journal, somewhere in the ballpark of 60% and 80%.

This news comes as a pretty big blow to Facebook who has been quite vocal in pronouncing their video consumption dominance on social media. It also has given quite a shock to many marketers who have, collectively, spent millions of dollars advertising on the platform.

While Facebook said in a statement that the error did not “impact billing” in any way, it may have had an effect on how advertisers spent their money across other platforms like YouTube, Twitter and Snapchat.

So What Does This Mean for Video Marketers?

Okay, so we know that Facebook misconstrued some analytic data, but what does this mean for you and your video advertising efforts? Is video not the up-and-coming platform that companies, like Facebook, have claimed it to be? Have all your advertising dollars invested into video been for naught?

Well take a nice long look at your world, because (spoiler alert) it won’t be crumbling around you today.

Video Advertising is Still Alive and Well

Facebook may have accidentally inflated their numbers for video view times on their platform a little (okay, a lot), but that doesn’t mean video isn’t a lucrative form of advertising. The world is steadily moving online and edging ever further from traditional forms of media. According to Nielsen study data, TV viewership by people ages 18-24 has dropped by over 38% in the past 5 years while free and subscription video streaming services are in 50% of US households and consistently beating out live TV among Millennials.

Consumers are leaving traditional media and, if companies are still interested in selling products, advertisers won’t be far behind. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau's third annual Video Ad Spend study, digital ad spend has increased by 114% since 2014 and 72% of marketers said they were going to pull their funds out of TV in order to increase their spending on digital video. Now those are some encouraging statistics.

Consumers are Watching Branded Content

Advertisers can pump as much video as they want online, but does that mean that consumers are actually watching? Despite Facebook’s miscalculations, the answer is still an unequivocal ‘yes’.

In May of last year, Buzzfeed had about 2.8 billion monthly views on its digital video content; a year later they now have an average audience of 7 billion people a month. Even more exciting is the fact that 75% of their content is consumed on platforms outside of its website, including 21% on Snapchat and 14% on YouTube.

Additionally, a recent Points Group study showed that the click-through-rate (CTR) and video ads is at about 1.84% which is higher than any other digital ad format.

Finally, Facebook is Still a Great Platform for Video

“Wait a second,” you might say, “I thought Facebook has been feeding me false information about my advertising for two years! Why would I continue using them?”

Well, the answer comes down to a single, staggering figure: 1,000,000,000 profiles.

That’s right, more than a 7th of the earth’s population has an account on Facebook which means that, more likely than not, your customers are there too. So while the average viewing times may have been a tad askew, it doesn’t change the fact that Facebook has about 8 billion video views every single day, the fact that the number of video posts per person has increased by 94% in the U.S. and that videos have a 135% greater organic reach on the platform than photos.

Additionally, Facebook has introduced a new metric to fix their past discrepancy. So while you may have a disparity between the numbers your videos had a year ago and the numbers they’ll have from now on, you can take comfort in the fact that they’re more accurate.

In the end, all of this information is to encourage you to “keep on keepin’ on” when it comes to video content. Though media companies may accidentally miscalculate metrics from time to time, the trend remains the same: video consumption is consistently growing. People are consuming massive amounts of digital content and brands that are not investing in video are missing out on an incredible opportunity to reach a wider and more engaged audience.

Wesley Fouse is the digital marketing specialist at Pinkston, Inc. Stay updated on all Pinkston content by following us on Twitter (@Pinkston_co).