November 22, 2016

Facebook Updates Metrics Reporting After Finding More Miscalculations

Image of person logging into Facebook

On November 16, Facebook announced three big updates to its advertising measurement and reporting offerings. This comes in response to finding four calculation errors on existing metrics which raised questions about data reliability.

Facebook put new processes in place to give marketers more clarity and transparency about how metrics are calculated. This POV will take a look at the updated metrics and what they could mean for pharma advertisers.

In September, Facebook acknowledged a bug in their video measurement tools that exaggerated its average viewing time, in some cases quite significantly. The error was quickly fixed, but placed scrutiny on Facebook’s measurement system.

In a recent two-month audit of more than 220 metrics, Facebook identified four metrics that had miscalculations and announced updates for each.

One bug appeared within Page Insights and affected organic reach. The data showing 7-day and 28-day organic reach had been miscalculated because some repeat visitors were counted more than once. On average, this means that 7-day organic reach totals will be 33% lower, while 28-day totals will be 55% lower.

In addition, Facebook will be updating organic page reach to include only “viewable impressions.” In the past, page reach increased any time a page’s post was placed in the News Feed. This new definition only counts page reach for posts that appear on a user’s screen. Facebook estimates that reported reach will be 20% lower on average. This change will roll out in the coming months.

The other three metrics updates are unlikely to affect pharma marketers. An update to “Instant Articles – Time Spent” changes how average time spent per article is calculated. Pharma marketers do not typically meet qualifications to use Instant Articles as the barriers for entry are high, including needing 50 articles submitted for Facebook’s review and limited formats for including important safety information or registration. Similarly, “Analytics for Apps – Referrals” and “Interest Lists – Follower Counts” do not directly impact page engagement.

One metric, “Video Views to 100%,” has actually been under-reported. An issue with audio and video syncing caused the audio to play longer than the video on some posts, undercounting the metric. The fix put in place may result in a 35% increase of views moving forward.

In order to minimize impacts to other metrics and be more transparent, Facebook has taken three steps:

  1. Formed a Measurement Council made up of marketers and ad agency executives to provide guidance on advertising processes
  2. Invited third-party verification to allow companies like Nielsen and comScore to validate reporting offerings
  3. Vowed to communicate clearly and more often about metrics through a new blog known as Metrics FYI

Marketers who continue to analyze their performance based on a variety of engagement metrics should still have an accurate overall view of their page engagement.

Though Facebook’s recent hiccups have caused a handful of the more than 220 metrics to be miscalculated, many marketers will remain unaffected by the changes. Marketers should pay special attention to changes to organic reach and engagement on reports in the coming months.

Facebook’s advertising and engagement platform is still a premier option for brands to reach consumers. They are taking steps to be more transparent about how they calculate data to help prevent these bugs in the future, which is promising for marketers.

To learn how Intouch can assist you with your pharma Facebook communities or advertising, please reach out to your Intouch representative.