Pivotal Research Group: Facebook misleads advertisers with deceptive data

A new report accuses Facebook of inflating its ad reach numbers by the millions in order to give the appearance of improved advertisement reach.

Brian Wieser, a research analyst at the Pivotal Research Group, proved that Facebook has been deceptively padding those numbers through claims that its advertisements can reach 41 million 18-24-year-olds and 60 million 25-34-year-olds in the U.S.

According to census data, however, there are only 31 million 18-24 year-olds and 45 million 25-34 year-olds in the entire country, CNBC reports.

When questioned about the apparent discrepancy in population numbers, Facebook stated that its advertisement numbers are “estimates” of how many users are “eligible” to see advertisements and “are not designed to match population or census estimates.”

Pointing out the implications of Facebook’s overestimation, Wieser noted, “While Facebook’s measurement issues won’t necessarily deter advertisers from spending money with Facebook, they will help traditional TV sellers justify existing budget shares and could restrain Facebook’s growth in video ad sales on the margins.”

Facebook’s ad reach estimation is reportedly based on a number of factors, such as Facebook user behavior, user demographics, and location data collected from devices. In September of 2016, Facebook informed advertisers that their advertising metrics had been artificially inflated because Facebook was only counting videos that had been watched for more than three seconds by users, which is Facebook’s benchmark for what counts as an advertisement “view.”

Facebook attempted to be more transparent in its reporting of metrics in November 2016 when they put out a blog called Measurement FYI, which shares updates on the website data collection and corrects previous data reports.

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