Facebook Inc. offers advertisers a wide range of metrics about the users who see and interact with their posts, but this week the company revealed that some of those numbers may have been a bit inaccurate — again.
“We’ve uncovered an issue for a small group of Instant Articles publishers that impacts reporting in comScore,” Facebook admitted in an update to a recent blog post:
“ComScore alerted us to the issue, and we’ve since identified this is a result of a recent Facebook update that impacted publishers using our legacy comScore integration who support HTTPS on their websites. This caused an underreporting of iPhone traffic from Facebook in comScore products between Sep 20 to Nov 30, 2016. iPad and Android traffic were not affected. We have fixed the issue and are working with comScore to produce updated estimates for the relevant time periods for the small group of partners affected. We have reached out to affected publishers.”
One publisher told the Wall Street Journal that Facebook’s metrics underreported their user numbers by as much as 10 percent to 20 percent, and another company claimed that its unique visitor count dropped by up to 30 percent for the month of November. Considering the fact that Facebook’s user base includes around 1.79 billion people, these errors could represent a significant number of users. According to Journal, some of the publishers affected by the error included major media companies such as the Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Variety and others.
While this latest metrics error only affects certain publishers, this is the fourth such error that Facebook has disclosed since September, which could make publishers understandably skeptical about any numbers that Facebook puts out.
Still, the fact that Facebook reported the issues at all may be reassuring, and the company has put an effort into maintaining its transparency in these situations.
“We know that having access to reliable metrics is important to the millions of partners who use our services to grow their businesses,” Facebook said in a blog post last month. “As our products evolve to meet the needs of the people and businesses that use them, our metrics will also evolve.”
“Our goal going forward is to communicate more regularly about our metrics, so that our partners can focus on doing what they do best – serving their customers – with the best insights possible.”