Although it's early days, advertisers in Asia are becoming increasingly concerned about Facebook’s many miscalculations, according to at least two agency executives.
“The news has not even reached many of them,” said Hari Shankar, MD of Ecselis Asia and head of paid digital strategy. “But where we did make them aware, they are quite concerned that ‘walled gardens’ are more ‘walled’ than they appear.”
There is also a sense among clients that Facebook isn’t forthcoming when it comes to providing additional value or transparency, the Havas Group executive added. Marketers did not respond to Campaign Asia-Pacific’s emails on the subject.
Facebook said it has discovered several mistakes in its reporting of metrics to brands and partners, and has vowed to fix the issue. These include a bug in Page Insights that miscalculated the number of unique visitors a Facebook page might get in a week or month. Once rectified, the deduplication will reduce seven-day reach by 33 percent and 28-day reach by 55 percent, according to the company.
In the case of Instant Articles, the measurement of time spent has on average been over-reported by 7 to 8 percent, and the correction will reduce paid organic reach by 20 percent, Facebook said.
The latest admission comes two months after the social network said it had overestimated average viewing time for video ads for two years.
RP Singh, regional head of media for VML in Southeast Asia and India, sees a mixed response from clients so far. He anticipates a stronger reaction once Facebook announces its plans to correct the metrics. “For now, clients are being watchful," he said. "Evolving metrics are part and parcel of the digital marketing ecosystem. At least someone is accepting the mistake and trying to fix it.”
According to Singh, it is the miscalculation related to video views that is the biggest concern because of its comparison to traditional TV advertising. “Switching TV spends to Facebook video spends will be under the scanner till the time Facebook makes metrics clearer to advertisers," Singh said. "For instance, three-second view versus simple video view is being discussed a lot.”
Both Singh and Shankar agreed that the faux pas is unlikely to hurt Facebook. “It is not as if marketers have a choice other than the real estate supplied by the big two (Google and Facebook)—is it not?” Shankar pointed out. “There will, however, be more debate around all the activities that brands will do around Facebook from a branding-performance standpoint because this is where the concern lies.”
Shankar took issue with Facebook’s claims that the errors had no impact on billable metrics. “What they do not touch upon is the quantum of incremental ad dollars that must have been invested in Facebook as a result of these overstated metrics,” he said.