Facebook’s Ad Reach Claims and the Number of Actual People in the US are Different

Facebook has been called out for claiming that its advertising reached more people in certain age groups than the US Census says exist. Facebook says that it is able to reach 41 million adults between 18 and 24 years old. The catch is that according to the US Census data there are only 31 million people that age in the US.

Facebook also claims that in the 25 to 34 age group it reaches a whopping 60 million people, but the rub again is that the US census says only 35 million people exist in that age group. The revelation came from a senior advertising analyst Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research. Wieser sent out an email to other advertising agencies and says that this discrepancy isn’t widely known by advertising execs.

Adweek says that while the discrepancy isn’t slowing agencies from placing ads on the social network that the issue might prevent Facebook from getting as much of the traditional TV advertising money that it wants to go along with it recently introduced content via the Watch tab. The discrepancies in reach versus people who actually live in the US could also mean that advertisers want third-party measurement data via services like Nielsen and comScore.

This isn’t the first measurement issue at Facebook, Wieser also said that there have been “over-stated average video viewing time, video viewing completions, miscalculations of organic page reach and other data which impacts how budgets are planned.” Weiser also pointed out that Facebook has made similar claims in Australia saying it reached more people in certain age groups than Australian census data showed existed.