New Metrics “Adjustments” for Facebook

Facebook may get coal in its Christmas stocking this year.

It may take Facebook a while to begin to suffer visibly, but we predict, and have written in our ZEDO blog,  that we’ve passed peak Facebook. This is the third time Facebook has had to admit to brands that its numbers were off: the first time was in estimating how long visitors viewed video ads on the giant social network; the second was in calculating how many monthly visitors saw a brand page, and the third is in estimating the audience size for new campaigns.

There is also speculation that Facebook may be taking too much credit for app installs.

How many times can Facebook admit errors before brands lost faith in it as an advertising platform? Although it is tempting for a marketer to feel that there’s a single solution to media buying, it’s also possible that such solutions, like most anticipated panaceas, are just too good to be true.

Facebook certainly seems like one of those cases. Facebook has now begun to allow MOAT and Integral Ad Sciences to examine some of its numbers, but when advertisers lose trust, it’s tough to win it back. Moreover, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, recently sold a major stake in the company, supposedly to free himself up to go on to the next event in his own life, which is rumored to be government.

Some publishers have already drawn back from their all-but total commitment to the platform, concluding that they are not getting the revenue they were promised and yet were giving up too much of their brand.

Especially since the US election, consumers have also express distaste for Facebook, holding it somewhat responsible for distributing fake news. Although we haven’t yet seen a consumer survey, there is anecdotal evidence that people burned out by political polarization, vitriolic attacks from friends who disagree, and the evidence that Facebook may bear some responsibility for fake news without being willing to take responsibility have begun to spend less time on the site, withdrawing to other news and networking sources.

A sophisticated marketer can see this coming, and has already begun to cover her bets by buying in niche publications where she knows the audience will retreat after Facebook burnout. The combination of better programmatic marketing tools such as header bidding and developments in the world at large may have made Facebook less desirable as the only digital spend.