The following was previously published in Digital News Daily on June 8, 2017:
Facebook is pressing a judge to dismiss claims by marketers who are suing the company over inflated video metrics.
The social networking service argues in new court papers that the marketers shouldn't be able to proceed because they don't allege that they saw or relied on the overstated metrics. "Rather than assert a direct allegation ... plaintiffs instead tap-dance by alleging that unspecified Facebook 'misrepresentations' indirectly induced plaintiffs to buy, continue buying, or pay more for video advertisements," Facebook says in papers filed Tuesday with U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson in San Francisco.
Facebook makes the argument as part of its bid to convince Henderson to dismiss the case before trial.
The dispute between Facebook and the advertisers stems from revelations last year that Facebook misreported two metrics related to its video ads. The result of both errors was that Facebook inflated the average time spent viewing ad clips by 60% to 80%. The company said last September that its mistaken calculations didn't affect billing. (Last month, Facebook acknowledged that it also overstated the number of times consumers clicked on some mobile ads; the company said it had issued refunds to affected advertisers.)
Six marketers -- including bankrupt tech incubator Quirky and the individuals Tom Letizia, Mark Fierro and Greg Agustin -- allege in a class-action complaint against Facebook that it violated a California law regarding unfair and fraudulent business acts. The marketers argue that the misrepresentations led them to believe that Facebook's video ads were more valuable than they actually were, which resulted in inflated prices.
Facebook counters that the marketers can't proceed with claims regarding fraudulent business acts without alleging that they relied on a specific statement.
"If true, this would be easy for plaintiffs to allege. -- e.g.: 'In or about September 2015, Mr. Letizia saw that his "Average Duration of Video Viewed" metric was 7 seconds. Because of that metric, he continued his advertising campaign with Facebook,'" the company writes.
The marketers and Facebook are expected to present their arguments to Henderson at a hearing on June 19.