Facebook Faulted for Saying It Can Reach People Who Don’t Exist

Facebook claims its platform can reach more people than actually exist in the U.S., which could hurt its push to compete for TV advertising budgets, Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser wrote in a note to clients.

According to Facebook’s Ads Manager, the social media giant has potential access to 41 million 18-to -24-year-olds in the U.S., Wieser wrote. However, there are only 31 million people who fall within that age category, based on U.S. Census data, he said. The gap, which also exists for other age ranges, doesn’t seem to be well-known by ad agencies, Wieser said.

The latest finding undermines Facebook’s pitch to advertisers: that it’s essentially a directory of real people using their real names that the company can target in sophisticated ways. Marketers have long been wary of digital measurement, because on the internet people can make fake profiles and create bots to click on them, creating a false sense of heightened buzz.

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