he number of people that Facebook claims to reach in different countries is significantly different from the actual census data. Their numbers are way higher than the number of people that actually exist in these areas. This has been confirmed in the UK, Australia, Us, France and Ireland.
Facebook claims that in the UK alone, it can reach 7.8 million users of between 18 and 24 years of age. However, according to The Office of National Statistics, the country had 5.8 million people within this age group in 2016. This kind of mismatch appears to be a worldwide problem. Different countries, especially Facebook key Markets, had similar reports.
It was American analysts Pivotal who discovered these irregularities. This was after Facebook’s advertising tools claimed the potential to reach 41 Million Americans aged between 18 and 24. However, this age group had only 31 million people according to the US Census report in 2016. The same happened for Americans aged 25-34 years. Census reports show 45 million while Facebook claimed 60 Million.
Pivotal’s senior analyst, Brian Wieser, said that most ad agency executives did not know about these gaps. However, the report about its existence would cause advertisers to strongly demand for third party measurement policies. He added that though these errors may fail to discourage some agencies from spending money on facebook advertisements, TV sellers might benefit. This is by justification of budget shares. According to him, this would limit the growth on Facebook’s video ad sales.
In Australia, Facebook claimed to reach 2.3 Million people of between 20-24 years of age. In 2016, the number given by The Australian Bureau of Statistics was 1.7 Million. In France, Facebook claimed 7.4 Million people aged 18-24 years while while studies reported 5.2 Million. Facebook European headquarters are based in Ireland where they reported 560,000 youths. However, in 2016, Eurostat reported only 353, 000 of them.
This definitely affects the relationship between Facebook and advertisers. According to these findings, the amount of time that people spend watching ads on Facebook is inflated. It can be up to 80% in some cases.
Michael Karg, group chief executive of Ebiquity, said that this kind of error does not help Facebook rebuild confidence with both the market and advertisers. He added that though Facebook has been trying hard to improve their transparency, they still have issues.
Both Facebook and Google are expected to take half of the worldwide internet advertising revenue and 20% of advertising business. This is according to a research firm, eMarketer.
In a statement, Facebook said that its estimates did not match census data. This is because they designed their ad reach numbers to be estimated from the total number of people in a given area who are likely to see a business’ ad. The company added that this was a campaign planning tool and an estimator. It is therefore not possible to bill.
In November, facebook launched Measurement FYI. This is a blog where they can share updates and data corrections. It said in a post that it was improving its technology to identify accidental ad clicks. This would help them produce the correct report based on the actual number of views.
On Wednesday, Facebook revealed to have taken $100, 000 for a Russian based influence operation to spread different political and social messages. They do not aim at supporting any political candidate, but spreading views related to gay rights, race immigration, race and other topics. They also said to have identified $50, 000 on political advertising that may be linked to Russia. Though the ads were displayed in English, some them were bought in Russian language.