Facebook claims it can reach more young people in the United States with advertisements than are actually alive, according to a new report.
Last week, a trade magazine in Australia looked at the “reach” statistics that Facebook gave for that country, and found that the company estimated it could reach more young people than Australia’s census.
Now, the firm Pivotal Research has done the same thing for America. “Through Facebook’s Ads Manager we can see that Facebook claims a potential reach within the United States of 41 million 18- to 24-year-olds, 60 million 25- to 34-year-olds, and 61 million 35- to 49-year-olds,” they wrote. “By contrast, U.S. Census data indicates that last year there were a total of 31 million 18- to 24-year-olds, 45 million 25- to 34-year-olds, and 61 million 35- to 49-year-olds.”
That’s an overstatement of 10 million people among 18- to 24-year-olds, and 15 million among 25- to 34-year-olds.
A Facebook spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that the reach estimates “are not designed to match population or census estimates. We are always working to improve our estimates.”
Which, sure. Except that you’d probably want your estimates to match reality as closely as possible, and showing 30 percent more people than could possibly exist seems like a problem.