Facebook’s Data “Bug” and Their Reporting Updates

November 23, 2016 mogointeractive

Last Wednesday, Facebook announced that they had discovered a “bug” in the reporting data that is shared with advertisers. They went on to point out several other issues with various reporting metrics that they are currently taking steps to resolve.

The “Bug”

In a November 16, 2016 blog post, Facebook said, “We know that having access to reliable metrics is important to the millions of partners who use our service to grow their businesses.” They also stated, “Our goal going forward is to communicate more regularly about our metrics, so that our customers can focus on
doing what they do best…”

The “bug” on their Page Insights, which has been live since May of 2016, has been displaying some inflated metrics on one of their Pages dashboards. They said, “On one of our Pages dashboards, one summary number showing 7-day or 28-day organic page reach was miscalculated as a simple sum of daily reach instead of de-duplicating repeat visitors over those periods .” While they continued to say that the “vast majority” of their reach data was unaffected, they said that they will update how page reach is shown. Facebook explained, “The de-duplicated summary in the overview dashboard will be 33% lower on average and 28-day will be 55% lower.”

Additionally, the “Referrals” in their Facebook Analytics for Apps dashboard, which evaluates all posts by people in an app or website, were miscalculated. They had been counting both clicks that went directly to the app or website and all other clicks on those posts. Since they had been including the other clicks to the posts, they found that about 30% were actually clicked by people consuming the content. They said that these issues should be resolved in the “next few weeks.”

Facebook’s Updates

Facebook listed several updates that they will be putting in place in order to try to improve the quality of their reporting metrics. The updates include:

  • The social network is looking into additional third-party reviews to validate the reporting that they offer to their partners.
  • Formation of a Measurement Council consisting of various businesses and members of their preexisting Client Council.
  • New internal review process to make sure that their metrics are concise and updated as they continue to make improvements to their product offerings. They will be communicating more regularly through in-product definitions, by way of their client teams, and via their “Metrics FYI” blog.
  • Imposing stricter definitions for paid ad reports that will only count reach once posts enter a person’s screen. On average, this will lower reported organic reach by 20%.
  • Updates to how video lengths are read to prevent an undercount of “video watches at 100%,” caused by the video audio and video track not lining up. This update will lead to a predicted 35% increase in the count of “video watches at 100%.”
  • Corrected metrics for their instant interactive mobile content. The time spent per article was being over-reported by 7-8% on average since August of last year.
  • Improvements to how “referrals” are evaluated in the Facebook Analytics for Apps dashboard.
  • Elimination of interest lists in an effort to prevent a page’s follower count from being inflated because before if someone both followed a page and followed that page through an interest list, that person would count as two followers. Read more about this HERE.

Straightforward Reporting

Over the past few months, Facebook has been taking steps to deliver clearer data to their partners.  They will update their “in-product definitions” and implement the following updates:

  1. More descriptive names for all metrics
  2. Calculations that clearly reflect how the products are being used by advertisers
  3. Updated tips and glossaries explaining all metrics in a uniform manner
  4. Customizable columns in reports reflecting how the advertisers set up their ads for better categorization

While it appears that the social network is diligently working to improve the accuracy of its reporting, we will have to see how well these updates go as they continue to implement them in the coming months. They will be posting the rest of their updates in their “Metrics FYI” blog, so stay tuned.