Must-Know Forecasting Accuracy Metrics

Highlights: Forecasting Accuracy Metrics

  • 1. Mean Absolute Error (MAE)
  • 2. Mean Squared Error (MSE)
  • 3. Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE)
  • 5. Mean Absolute Scaled Error (MASE)
  • 7. Mean Directional Accuracy (MDA)
  • 8. Mean Absolute Deviation (MAD)
  • 9. Median Absolute Deviation (MedAD)
  • 10. Mean Error (ME) or Bias
  • 11. Theil’s U-statistic
  • 12. Diebold-Mariano test

Our Newsletter

The Business Week In Data

Sign up for our newsletter and become the navigator of tomorrow's trends. Equip your strategy with unparalleled insights!

Table of Contents

In today’s data-driven world, accuracy in forecasting is paramount for businesses and organizations to make informed decisions, optimize resources, and stay one step ahead of competitors. As such, understanding and analyzing forecasting accuracy metrics is essential for anyone involved in planning, strategy, or performance measurement.

In this insightful blog post, we will delve into the significance of forecasting accuracy metrics, examine various methods and tools to measure them, and offer best practices to help you enhance your forecasting capabilities. So, buckle up and join us as we explore the fascinating world of forecasting accuracy metrics and empower you to make better data-driven decisions.

Forecasting Accuracy Metrics You Should Know

1. Mean Absolute Error (MAE)

This metric measures the average absolute difference between the forecasted values and the actual values. It is easy to understand, but does not penalize large errors as much as other methods.

2. Mean Squared Error (MSE)

This metric is similar to MAE but squares the differences between the forecasted and actual values. This gives more weight to larger errors, making it more sensitive to outliers.

3. Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE)

This is the square root of MSE. It is useful because it is in the same units as the forecast and actual values, making it easier to interpret.

4. Mean Absolute Percentage Error (MAPE)

This metric calculates the absolute percentage difference between the actual and forecasted values, then averages those percentages over all data points. This is useful for comparing forecasts across different scales, but can be misleading when actual values are close to zero.

5. Mean Absolute Scaled Error (MASE)

MASE measures the average absolute error of a forecast relative to a naive benchmark, which is usually the mean or seasonal naive method. It is a scale-independent metric and is useful when comparing the accuracy of different methods.

6. Symmetric Mean Absolute Percentage Error (sMAPE)

sMAPE is a modified version of MAPE that handles problems associated with zero or close-to-zero actual values. It is better suited for cases where actual values can be close to zero.

7. Mean Directional Accuracy (MDA)

MDA measures the percentage of correct directional predictions. In other words, it calculates how often the forecast correctly predicts whether the actual value will increase, decrease, or remain constant.

8. Mean Absolute Deviation (MAD)

This is another term for MAE; it refers to the average absolute difference between the forecasted and actual values.

9. Median Absolute Deviation (MedAD)

MedAD measures the median of the absolute differences between the forecasted and actual values. This metric is less sensitive to outliers than MAE or MSE.

10. Mean Error (ME) or Bias

ME calculates the average difference between the forecasted and actual values. This metric measures the tendency of the forecast to overestimate or underestimate the actual value.

11. Theil’s U-statistic

This metric decomposes the mean square error into three components (bias, variance, and covariance) and calculates their relative contributions. The U-statistic is a standardized measure that compares the relative accuracy of different forecasts by taking into account the effect of each component.

12. Diebold-Mariano test

This is a hypothesis test that compares the predictive accuracy of two competing forecasts. It helps determine if the difference in accuracy between two forecasts is statistically significant or simply due to random chance.

Forecasting Accuracy Metrics Explained

Forecasting accuracy metrics are critical for evaluating the effectiveness of prediction models in various industries. They provide insights into the performance of forecasts by assessing the differences between predicted and actual values. Metrics such as MAE, MSE, and RMSE evaluate the magnitude of errors, with RMSE allowing easier interpretation due to its congruent units.

MAPE and sMAPE allow comparisons across different scales, while MASE provides scale-independent comparisons between forecasting methods. MDA focuses on the correctness of directional predictions, and ME evaluates the forecast’s tendency to overestimate or underestimate actual values. Theil’s U-statistic offers valuable insights into the relative contributions of bias, variance, and covariance. Meanwhile, the Diebold-Mariano test helps determine the statistical significance of differences between two competing forecasts.

These metrics collectively contribute to the continuous improvement of forecasting models and better decision-making in various fields.


In summary, forecasting accuracy metrics play a critical role in assessing and improving the performance of forecasting models. They offer a quantifiable approach to measure the level of accuracy and reliability of forecasts, enabling businesses to make well-informed decisions based on data-driven insights. As we have discussed, metrics such as Mean Absolute Error (MAE), Mean Absolute Percentage Error (MAPE), and Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) each have their unique advantages and limitations that should be carefully considered when selecting the appropriate measure for your particular use case.

By continuously evaluating and refining their forecasting models using these metrics, organizations can achieve a more accurate and dependable outlook for their future performance, allowing them to stay ahead in a competitive market.


What are forecasting accuracy metrics?

Forecasting accuracy metrics are quantitative measures used to evaluate the performance and precision of forecast predictions compared to actual outcomes. They help in identifying the effectiveness of forecasting models and methods, and in making adjustments to improve future predictions.

Why are forecasting accuracy metrics important?

Forecasting accuracy metrics are crucial for businesses and researchers because they determine the reliability of the forecasts. Accurate forecasts enable better decision-making, resource allocation, and risk management, ultimately increasing profitability and efficiency in various industries.

What are some common forecasting accuracy metrics?

Some common forecasting accuracy metrics include Mean Absolute Error (MAE), Mean Squared Error (MSE), Mean Absolute Percentage Error (MAPE), Mean Percentage Error (MPE), and Mean Absolute Scaled Error (MASE). Each metric has its advantages and disadvantages based on the context of the forecast.

How can forecasting accuracy metrics be improved?

Improving forecasting accuracy metrics involves refining the forecasting model, incorporating additional data sources, adjusting model parameters, and combining multiple forecasting techniques. Regularly tracking metric performance helps in identifying areas for improvement and making necessary changes in the forecasting process.

Can forecasting accuracy metrics be misleading?

Yes, forecasting accuracy metrics can sometimes be misleading. Factors that could mislead include extreme values, inconsistent data, or inappropriate metric use for a given problem type. It is essential to choose the right metric, as well as to evaluate the forecast's ultimate usefulness while considering the prediction's accuracy, data quality, and model assumptions.

How we write our statistic reports:

We have not conducted any studies ourselves. Our article provides a summary of all the statistics and studies available at the time of writing. We are solely presenting a summary, not expressing our own opinion. We have collected all statistics within our internal database. In some cases, we use Artificial Intelligence for formulating the statistics. The articles are updated regularly.

See our Editorial Process.

Table of Contents

... Before You Leave, Catch This! 🔥

Your next business insight is just a subscription away. Our newsletter The Week in Data delivers the freshest statistics and trends directly to you. Stay informed, stay ahead—subscribe now.

Sign up for our newsletter and become the navigator of tomorrow's trends. Equip your strategy with unparalleled insights!