Facebook admits to overbilling on video carousel ads

Dive Brief:

  • Facebook is refunding some advertisers after finding a digital defect that wrongly counted user clicks on video carousel ads as clicks on links to advertiser websites, the social network said in a blog post. Carousel ads allow marketers to place images, videos and text within one ad space, which users can swipe to view. The glitch only occurred when people viewed Facebook with a mobile browser like Safari or Chrome, not in the mobile app or desktop version.
  • The company's announcement marks the first time it acknowledged it wrongly billed advertisers for misattributing clicks, according to The Wall Street Journal. The social network has disclosed on five separate occasions since September that it misstated the metrics advertisers and publishers use to measure viewership or response.
  • Unilever, the Dutch-British packaged goods company, is receiving a full — albeit small — refund because of the error, WSJ said. Facebook said the technical glitch affected about 0.04% of all impressions delivered by the social network during the period it reviewed. 

Dive Insight:

Facebook’s admission that its metric errors had affected billing again raises questions about the reliability of its systems as the social network scales up to nearly 2 billion users and $27.6 billion in annual revenue. The company has partnered with dozens of third-party metrics firms to provide greater transparency to marketers after a series of metrics flubs last year, including an 80% overstatement on key measures of video ad viewership on its pages.

While Facebook’s metrics tools are becoming more advanced, marketers should consider other services like Google Analytics to get some insight into the effectiveness of a Facebook ad campaign, according to a blog post by Hootsuite’s AdEspresso. The Facebook Ads manager tracks ad conversions differently than Google Analytics, but understanding how these different systems operate can give better insight on how to fine-tune social media ad campaigns.

Facebook is also taking steps to make its ad-tracking data more useful to marketers. The social network added a tool last week to help marketers learn more about how ad campaigns generate sales leads in offline settings like a store, phone call or in-person meeting. The new tool is a big improvement to Facebook's Lead Ads, which basically acted as an auto-fill service that gathered key contact information about sales prospects. An offline conversion tracker can help marketers optimize ad campaigns and experiment with design changes and call-to-action messages to see what drives the best results.

Filed Under: Apps Tech and platform developments