Reset your counters: Facebook had to put up with another major ad report failing.
This appears to be costly for the tech giant to remedy – not least because it further saps its reputation as a self-reporter. (For information on errors in previous Facebook ad metrics, please see our 2016 reports here, here, here, and here.)
Last week AdExchanger reported on the code error with the free Facebook tool "Conversion Lift", which affected several thousand advertisers.
Discovering the bug has since led the tech giant to offer some advertisers millions per report this week in credit to offset the misjudgment of sales from ad impressions (which in turn likely affects how many advertisers were spending on its digital snake oil ).
According to an AdAge report yesterday, quoting industry sources, the amount of compensation offered by Facebook depends on the advertiser's spending. However, in some cases, the mistake means advertisers will receive tens of millions of dollars in vouchers.
The problem with the tool was not resolved for 12 months and the problem reportedly persisted between August 2019 and August 2020.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook tacitly warned advertisers this month of the technical problem calculating the effectiveness of their ad campaigns, skewing the data that advertisers use to determine how much to spend on their platform.
A digital agency source told the WSJ that the issue is particularly affecting certain categories, such as retail, where marketers increased spending on Facebook and similar channels by up to 5% or 10% this year in an attempt to to make up for lost business in the early stages of the pandemic.
Another industry source pointed out that the problem affects not just media advertisers, but the tech giant’s competitors as well – as the tool could affect where marketers spend their budgets, whether they're on the Facebook platform or elsewhere .
Last week, tech giant AdExchanger announced that the bug was fixed on September 1, then said it was "working with affected advertisers".
In a subsequent statement, a company spokesperson told us: “While we were making improvements to our measurement products, we encountered a technical problem that affected some tests on the upgrade elevator. We've fixed this and are working with advertisers who have impacted studies. "
Facebook didn't respond to a request to confirm whether some affected advertisers were being offered multi-million dollar ad vouchers to fix the code bug.
It has been confirmed that one-time credits will be offered to advertisers affected by the "Significantly" (non-billable) metric issue The impact will vary on a case-by-case basis, depending on how the tool was used.
Nor was it confirmed how many advertisers had influenced the studies due to the year-long technical flaw – claiming it was a small number.
While the tech giant can continue to run its own reporting systems for B2B customers who have no outside oversight for the time being, regulating the fairness and transparency of high-performing internet platforms that other companies rely on for market access and reach is a major goal of a major upcoming digital Business revision of the service legislation in the European Union.
According to the plan of the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act, the European Commission must open its algorithms to public supervisory authorities – and is subject to binding transparency rules. So the clock may be ticking for Facebook's self-serving self-reporting.