Advertisers allege Facebook hid the fact that no one watches video ads

Darnell Taylor
October 20, 2018

Furthermore, its activity was described as "likely to deceive" advertisers.

Facebook is facing renewed scrutiny over the way it reported its video metrics, after an updated lawsuit was filed in California this week alleging the social media giant's errors were much worse than originally reported. "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".

In an emailed statement made in response to the lawsuit, a Facebook spokesperson claimed that the legal action is "without merit" and denied that the social network tried to hide the issue from advertisers. The latest filing came shortly after the advertiser's review of 80,000 pages of internal Facebook records. The complaint goes beyond the obvious misleading, alleging that Facebook actively committed fraud by failing to correct the issue for two years despite knowing of its existence.

Facebook's growth is dependent on convincing advertisers that people are watching more video on its site, Bloomberg notes, and the company is battling to win back trust after finding evidence that Russians used the social network to meddle in the 2016 USA presidential election and revealing that hackers stole personal info on 29 million users.

Yet, are people watching video content on Facebook as much as the company has reported?

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The lawsuit also claims Facebook understated the metrics inaccuracy, and that average view times were inflated up to 900 percent. Facebook, including Instagram, is forecast to command 24.5% of all video ad spending this year at $6.81 billion and hold an 87% share of USA social media video ad spending, according to a recent report from eMarketer. Then, it partnered with third-parties to verify and measure its metrics.

According to a report in ReCode, Facebook that last week said that no data will be collected through Portal and shared for targeted advertising has now taken a U-turn.

But Tuesday's filings allege Facebook falsely pumped up statistics by 150 to 900 percent.

Facebook gives brands data about how well their unpaid posts perform, and for two years its math was off for how it calculated the average amount of time viewers spent watching videos. Some news publishers figuring out how to allocate staff began a "pivot to video" strategy, which may have been based on incorrect data.

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