Facebook Claims 25 Million Fake Americans in Reachable Audience
In an article that ironically trended on Facebook on Wednesday, Business Insider’s Alex Heath writes that a Facebook spokesperson believes many of the extra views in the U.S. could be from tourists. (Heath tracked down tourism estimates that show visits to the U.S. were roughly a wash, considering Americans also leave the country on trips.) [Author’s note: Many Facebook users have more than one account and Facebooker and Target Marketing blogger Stephen H. Yu has an account for his dog, Thor. It’s unclear what kind of marketing appeals to Thor Yu.]
Metrics problems aren’t new to the company. Facebook (which some users now call Fakebook, and not just because of its fake news controversy) had a video view metrics problem so pronounced that big brands cut back or stopped advertising on the site for a while in 2016. The social media site that had refused outside oversight now submits to third-party monitoring.
Heath says this of the latest Facebook metrics snafu:
Facebook's ad manager says the social network can reach 41 million 18-24 year-olds, 60 million 25-34 year-olds, and 61 million 35-49 year-olds, according to [Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian] Wieser. Meanwhile, U.S. Census data from 2016 indicates that there are 31 million 18-24 year-olds, 45 million 25-34 year-olds, and 61 million 35-49 year-olds living in the country. Nielsen has predicted the numbers to remain mostly unchanged for 2017.
A Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider on Wednesday that the company's ad reach estimations are "not designed to match population or census estimates" but rather "how many people in a given area are eligible to see an ad a business might run.
“Reach estimations are based on a number of factors, including Facebook user behaviors, user demographics, location data from devices, and other factors," the spokesperson said in a statement. "They are designed to estimate how many people in a given area are eligible to see an ad a business might run. They are not designed to match population or census estimates. We are always working to improve our estimates.”
Facebook's projected reach has no effect on the delivery and billing of ads, the spokesperson added.
Facebook had made the same claim in 2016 about its video view metrics not influencing ad rates, Target Marketing reported.
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Related story: Facebook Caves, Allows Ad Metrics Oversight