Facebook had to contend with a flurry of nervous advertisers this week as third-party audits revealed viewability rates as low as 20% for its video ads – far below the average of 50% across other sites. Given the company’s previous metrics miscalculations as well as the major cost of video ads, brands may be reconsidering how much money they put into promotions on the platform.

Facebook video views have become increasingly expensive for brands. In Q1, just 7% of brand video views were organic, meaning that the vast majority came from ad spend. That rate was even lower for some sectors, like Financial Services, where the average brand saw just 4% organic views – the lowest rate in L2’s Video report. Across categories, the brands scoring the most views were those with the largest budgets, such as Kia, Samsung, and Red Bull.

Organic FB views

“On Facebook, video ads have to contend with both other brand posts and friends’ updates in the newsfeed, regardless of whether that ad was seen once served. Right now, the Interactive Advertising Bureau [an industry body for digital publishers] defines viewable video as any video that plays continuously for two seconds with 50% or more of the ad on screen,” explains Mike Froggatt, L2’s Director of Intelligence. “That’s a mouthful to say, let alone leave an impression on a user. The onus is on brands to push back, self-define what they consider viewable, get it in writing, and add a third-party viewability vendor to the campaign to hold Facebook accountable.”

Facebook’s daily active users have increased 18% on the year to 1.28 billion, and brands have not yet hesitated to pay for exposure to them. However, the ongoing issues with reporting metrics could make large advertisers think twice about spending more on the platform.

“We will definitely look at cost per viewable impression for branding campaigns and amend our planning appropriately,” one media agency executive told Digiday.

Daily Insights in Your Inbox

Edit your preferences or unsubscribe