It is the 25th of February 2020

Facebook Refunds Some Advertisers After Admitting 5th Measurement Error

Fool me once...

For the fifth time since September, Facebook has come clean with an error in its advertising metric, and as The Wall Street Journal reports, is issuing refunds to some advertisers.

As Madison Avenue is demanding better and more transparent measurement from the social network, 'The' Social Network admitted in a blog post today that it had discovered a bug in its system that led it to overstate clicks on marketers' websites.

During our regular reviews to ensure the accuracy of our systems, we recently found and fixed a bug that misattributed some clicks on video carousel ads as link clicks. This bug occurred when people were on mobile web browsers on smartphones — not on desktop or in the Facebook mobile app.


The bug affected billing only for the following conditions: for the video carousel ad unit; when the advertiser chose to bid on link clicks; and only for people who were on smartphone web browsers. In these cases, instead of being billed only for link clicks (clicks to an advertiser’s selected destination), these advertisers were incorrectly billed when people clicked on the videos in the carousel to enlarge and watch them. Advertisers will receive a full credit for the charges they incurred for these misattributed clicks.


Most consumers use Facebook through the app on their phones, and mobile web browser ad impressions make up a small percentage of the overall ads impressions people see on Facebook. Given that this bug related to mobile web for smartphones only, and specifically for video carousel ads that bid on link clicks, the impact from a billing perspective was 0.04% of ads impressions. Regardless of how many impressions were affected, we take all bugs seriously and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

Only around 0.04% of the video carousel ads served on the mobile web were inaccurately billed over the time period Facebook was monitoring, the company said. Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s vice president of global marketing solutions, said the bug was uncovered as part of a recently introduced review process and the company is “committed to transparency” with its partners.

Finally, as WSJ notes, Facebook’s disclosure comes right in the middle of the annual U.S. television “upfront” season, when the biggest TV networks throw glitzy events and parties showcasing their programming in the hopes of securing billions of dollars in advertising commitments from marketers. It will play into the narrative among media executives that TV offers a safer and more predictable environment for marketers than digital platforms.

Unilever , the consumer packaged-goods giant that owns brands such as Dove and Hellmann’s, was one of the advertisers affected by the latest error and is receiving a full, but small, refund. Keith Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer, said Facebook had been proactive to address the bug as quickly as possible, but that it nonetheless highlights the need for more transparency and third-party verification in the digital space to track both advertising effectiveness and that advertising transactions are working as agreed.


Mr. Weed added: “It highlights once again that while there has been progress there is still further improvement needed.”

Especially as click-farms grow...

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