Facebook’s calculations concerning how much time people spend watching a particular video that you post have always been rather confusing. They often over calculated the watch time, and it really wasn’t as helpful as it could have been. The social network has recently launched a new time metric called ‘average watch time’ that will hopefully straighten most of this out.
The new average watch time metric is provided to Page owner’s organic videos as well as their video ads. This metric takes the total amount of time that all the combined users watch a given video, and divides it by the number of viewers. The important thing to keep in mind with this is that Facebook calculates watch time only counts view time once per ‘session’.
For example, if someone is scrolling through their News Feed and they stop to read a post, but a video is playing on the screen (though not actually being watched) it will count that time. If, however, half way through the video they actually start being interested in the video, they will likely restart it from the beginning. They then watch the full video all the way through, still in the same Facebook session. If the full video was 30 seconds, and the video played for 20 seconds before the person restarted it, Facebook would count the full 20 seconds that it played originally, plus the 30 seconds it played upon restart.
This means that the stats can actually show that a 30 second video was watched for 50 seconds, but only by one view. This can make things a little confusing, but overall the overall statistics are still quite useful and do reflect how much time people are watching the videos.
Facebook is, apparently, working on some additional metrics to provide clear data concerning how much time users are actually spending on the video. For now, however, this metric should be helpful as long as marketers know what they are looking at.