Facebook falsehoods: New report reveals massive miscalculations of reach

by | Oct 5, 2017 | Public Relations

We all know that Facebook has enormous global reach, perhaps the most pervasive entity the world has ever known—yet eye-opening new research from the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) suggests the social behemoth may be grossly overestimating its ad-reach metrics.

The scrutiny level on Facebook is visibly rising, and as each progressive layer is peeled back, the revelations are cause for more concern, the new report finds. Just as Facebook’s infamous fake news is now understood to include foreign government meddling, so have their many ad data “mistakes” now come to include systemic and ongoing over-counting to a literal impossible degree—that of actually eclipsing the population.

Questions around the safety and authenticity of Facebook’s services are clearly escalating among the nation’s most powerful agencies and brands. In the U.S., Facebook’s false reach claims were first uncovered by respected Pivotal research analyst Brian Wieser on September 5, and since then the doubts surrounding the reliability of Facebook’s data have only continued to sound the alarm.

Facebook falsehoods: New report reveals massive miscalculations of reach

The new VAB report drills deeper into Facebook’s audience reach issues initially raised by Wieser, revealing that the scale and extent to which the data is misrepresented by Facebook is far greater than originally thought.

“It’s difficult to understand how a precision platform such as Facebook could continue to miscalculate these numbers time and time again,” said Sean Cunningham, VAB president and CEO, in a news release. “Rather, there appears to be a systematic misrepresentation of data across the board, at a scale unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Advertisers need to know that the data and metrics they’re viewing are valid, and third-party verification, rather than simply accepting data at face value, is the only way to ensure that advertisers get what they pay for.”

Facebook falsehoods: New report reveals massive miscalculations of reach

Key findings from VAB’s research:

  • Facebook platforms’ reach inflation stretches anywhere between 3-42% by every single state, not just one or two vs. the U.S. Census
  • Facebook claims that its extra 22 million people are actually a result of visitors from a different geography. However, as the report shows, there’s no difference in the potential reach between “everyone” in the U.S. and those that “live” here
  • The Facebook 18-34 population reach inflation is much more pronounced within the ten most populous cities, but other regions are also affected
  • Facebook’s estimated daily reach is 2–12x times larger than what it should be based on basic media math
  • There is a gap of over 10 million adults 18-34 (1.9–12.0mm) between the low and high range for a demo-targeted, one-day $5K buy

Read the full report here.

Facebook falsehoods: New report reveals massive miscalculations of reach

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter