Sir Martin Sorrell reacts to latest Facebook metrics revelations: 'The player & referee cannot be the same'

Following Facebook's admission that it has flubbed many key measurement metrics on the platform, including over-reporting time spent reading Instant Articles and miscalculating organic page reach, chief executive of WPP Sir Martin Sorrell has commented on the revelations and is calling for more third-party measurement.

Sir Martin Sorrell

“Clearly it's an example where the player and referee cannot be the same person or where you cannot mark your own homework,” he said.

“As you know, Comscore in which we have a 20% investment, have been pushing hard for better online measurement metrics and our clients, other media and agencies have been pushing for better metrics too,” he added. “They are concerned that Nielsen’s metrics are not adequate either. Some of our leading clients have been very concerned about viewability, along with GroupM, as you also know. It appears that, at last, the dam has been breached.”

In September, Facebook found itself in hot water when it admitted that it had been overstating video view times by 60 to 80 percent for two years because it was only taking into account views that lasted more than three seconds when calculating its ‘Average Duration of Video Viewed’ metric instead of considering total views.

When announcing the more recent miscalculations, Facebook said in a blog post that it is "exploring additional third-party reviews to validate the reporting we offer partners" and is forming a Measurement Council to help address the issues.

Brian Weiser, senior research analyst-advertising at Pivotal Research Group, said that while none of Facebook's errors "impact the company's billings directly," they could still contribute to a "modest negative impact on revenues in quarters ahead."

"Although it is positive that Facebook is disclosing these issues (evidently following an audit of its own undertaking), in the wake of the recent issue with mis-calculating average video view times, this news is negative in terms of the sentiment that advertisers and publishers will have towards Facebook," he said in a statement.

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