Advertisers Accuse Facebook of Knowingly Overestimating Video Viewing

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook Inc. knew in early 2015 that it misled advertisers about the average time users spent viewing online video clips - and then lied about it, according to a lawsuit. In the latest version of the complaint filed Tuesday, those claims were unredacted. "We told our customers about the error when we discovered it-and updated our help center to explain the issue", a spokeswoman said.

Facebook is denying new filings brought Tuesday in an ongoing lawsuit by advertisers around its handling of faulty video advertising metrics, Ad Age reported. This set off several other miscalculations handed by the company leading to a lawsuit.

The new claims against Facebook, if proven true, show the company yet again failing to handle an internal error with proper transparency, which will come as another blow to the degree of marketers' trust in one of the world's largest digital advertising platforms. However, the company never bothered to make corrections in order to retain their goodwill.

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Facebook was quick to note that Portal wouldn't feed your data to advertisers - "Portal conversations stay between you and the people you're calling", last week's announcement said - but that reassurance has already proven false: Facebook might use your calls and Portal app usage as queues for its advertising network, a company spokesperson told Recode.

A group of small advertisers suing the Menlo Park social media titan alleged in the filing that Facebook "induced" advertisers to buy video ads on its platform because advertisers believed Facebook users were watching video ads for longer than they actually were. In reality, the company only included those who had viewed a video for three seconds or more when calculating this metric, leaving out everyone who clicked away before three seconds. "We want our clients to know that this miscalculation has not and will not going forward have an impact on billing or how media mix models value their Facebook video investments". Because it was not including any views under three seconds, it had the effect of inflating the average length of a view in its "average duration of video viewed" metrics. "They also would have seen that they had spent considerable money on past advertising campaigns that were not enjoying anywhere near the average viewership that Facebook had represented". Although Facebook claims it was an accident, a lawsuit from marketing agency Crowd Siren alleges that social network had known for quite some time prior and made an effort to hide it.

The two sides will appear before US District Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland on December 14, 2018 at 9am.

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