Facebook Claims Its Ads Reach More People Than Census Population Numbers in Every State


Facebook’s ad reach numbers exceed U.S. census population estimates in every state by a margin between 3 percent to 42 percent.

According to a report from the Video Advertising Bureau, Facebook has been reporting ad reach much larger than the actual population base in the U.S. based on census data.

Breitbart News previously reported on Facebook’s issue with advertising number inflation in September. Facebook claims that their advertising can reach 41 million adults in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 24, however, U.S. Census data states that the total population of adults between 18 and 24 in the country is only approximately 31 million.

Following the first report of possible advertising number inflation, Facebook said in a statement to AdWeek, “Reach estimations are based on a number of factors, including Facebook user behaviors, user demographics, location data from devices and other factors. They are designed to estimate how many people in a given area are eligible to see an ad that a business might run. They are not designed to match population or census estimates. We are always working to improve our estimates.”

Facebook’s numbers still don’t add up, with the company claiming that their advertisements can reach approximately 60 million adults in the U.S. between the ages of 25 and 34, but the U.S. Census total for that demographic is 35 million. According to the new report, Facebook’s ad reach numbers and the U.S. census data for Facebook users aged between 18 and 34 is “much more pronounced within the 10 most populous cities.” Facebook’s estimated daily reach is also between two and twelve times larger than what is to be expected “based on basic media math.”

The Video Advertising Bureau said in a statement, “Whether this is truly another metrics glitch remains to be seen. However, with questions of trust regarding ad-tech platforms at an all-time high among many marketers, our analysis provides another instance where first-party data should at least be questioned, or even challenged, particularly when the numbers don’t align with universally accepted metrics such as U.S. Census Bureau population data and basic media math.”

Sean Cunningham, the President and CEO of the VAB said, “It’s difficult to understand how a precision platform, such as Facebook, could continue to miscalculate these numbers time and time again. 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.”

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan_ or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com.


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