Are digital metrics reliable?

In this day and age if your opening up your own business, one of the very first approaches to  marketing your brand will likely be online through a 3rd party source… with Facebook and Google as prime candidates. With Facebook ads, you can target consumers based on their profile information, demographic and location. Once you have finished developing up your ad, you then set up a budget and bid for each click you receive or, a total number of impressions. But what if the measurements to track and record all of this activity were giving out false results? I mean, one might be able to argue that if its recording a lower number of clicks than it actually is receiving, then that would mean less money charged to your business, right? Yes. BUT, it would also undervalue the real traffic to your business. And over measured activity would result in more charges… which is what happened this week to several companies including Dove and Hellmann’s. Facebook is now issuing refunds to businesses after discovering a glitch in the system that overstated clicks to the marketer’s website.

Source: Pixabay

Even though the oversight was minor as it only affected 0.04% of all Facebook ad impressions, it is still a cause for concern. Facebook’s global marketing solutions vice president, Carolyn Everson, stated that the problem was discovered as part of a newly designed review process and the company is ”committed to transparency” with its partners. This isn’t the first time this has happened though, this incident now makes it the 5th time since September that metrics have delivered understated or overstated results. These results are the key indicators for businesses for which ads are effective in increasing their sales, which they adjust to accordingly. Consequently, for a company to act on false information it could potentially be a huge waste of resources in doing so.

Facebook, however, have been addressing this ongoing problem in a proactive manner. This situation highlights the necessity for an increase in transparency  and third-party verification in the digital world. This will allow to track the effectiveness of advertising and whether transactions are being implemented as intended.

What went wrong: When users clicked on its “video carousel” on a mobile browser—not on desktop or a Facebook app—to expand the video in size, the clicks were inappropriately allocated as registered website clicks.



Along with with unreliability of metrics, I also question the validity of the users. These days we hear a lot about click farms where advertisers can hire thousands of dummy accounts, and then proceed to create a false sense of following on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Would it be unreasonable to question if the same could happen to ads?

Check out more Facebook errors found out in metrics due to its lack of transparency here.


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