Social Media

Facebook’s Latest Ad Tool Fails Putting Another Dent in its Reputation

Facebook - Appy Pie

Facebook Inc. is offering millions of dollars in credits to some advertisers after discovering a glitch in a tool that tells advertisers how effective their ads may be in driving results, such as getting consumers to download an app or purchase a product.

Facebook’s “conversion lift” tool overestimated some campaign results for 12 months, the company quietly told its advertisers this month. The glitch skewed data that advertisers use to decide how much money to spend with the company.

This isn’t the first problem Facebook has discovered in its systems to measure advertisers’ campaigns, and it is not likely to dent Facebook’s ad revenue. But some ad buyers said the latest gaffe has hurt confidence in the company’s metrics at a time when many businesses are navigating the pandemic by trying to cut costs and make sure their ad spending performs.

The level of compensation Facebook is offering varies depending on the advertiser’s spend — but in some instances the mistake means advertisers are being given coupons worth tens of millions of dollars. The issue with the tool went unfixed for as long as 12 months, with the problem persisting between August 2019 and August 2020, according to reports.

One digital agency source told the WSJ the issue particularly affects certain categories such as retail where marketers have this year increased spending on Facebook and similar channels by up to 5% or 10% to try to recover business lost during the early stages of the pandemic.

“While making improvements to our measurement products, we found a technical issue that impacted some conversion lift tests,” said a Facebook spokesperson in an email. “We’ve fixed this and are working with advertisers that have impacted studies.”

Another of its industry sources pointed out the issue affects not just media advertisers but the tech giant’s competitors — since the tool could influence where marketers chose to spend budget, so whether they spend on Facebook’s platform or elsewhere.

Facebook told AdExchanger that the bug was fixed on September 1, saying then that it was “working with impacted advertisers”. At one large buying agency, the size of ad credits will be around 0.5% of affected clients’ annual budgets around the time of the glitch, according to a memo that the agency sent to clients that was obtained by The WSJ.

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