Opinion

Will Facebook ever stop bullshitting?

After pulling 300,000 15 to 24-year-old Swedes out of thin air, Facebook was already skating on thin ice. But thanks to a new report which claimed the social media giant reaches 10 million imaginary Americans, adland commentator Bob Hoffman was forced to ask: Will Facebook ever stop bullshitting?

You’d think by now Facebook would have learned.

For years anyone with a brain has known that Facebook “metrics” are a joke. They make shit up, imbeciles at agencies believe it, dimwit clients fund it, and – bingo – more ad money. Most famously, not long ago they inflated video viewing time on their site by as much as 80%.

Hoffman: “Facebook’s ability to reach non-existent people sets a new standard for the online ad industry”

Recently in my newsletter, I recounted this story…

Facebook Discovers 300,000 Invisible Swedes

Facebook “metrics” have a long illustrious history of being laughable bullshit. Anyone who believes their numbers is an idiot. Here’s a lovely example.

According to a recently published report, Facebook says they reach 1.5 million Swedes between the ages of 15 and 24. The problem here is that Sweden only has 1.2 million of ’em. If Facebook reached 100% of them, they’d still be 300,000 short. Sometimes I think Facebook’s calculations are done by bloggers.
But today we have something even more delicious.

According to Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research Group, one of the industry’s most respected media analysts, Facebook is at it again.

Facebook’s Ads Manager says that the website is capable of reaching 41 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 24. The problem is there are only 31 million Americans of that age. But hey, what’s 10 million people here or there?

You have to admire Facebook for their ability to reach 10 million imaginary 18-24 year olds. But as well as they do against imaginary 18-24 year olds, where they really excel is against non-existent 25-34 year olds. They reach 60 million of them. Unfortunately, there are only 45 million alive.

So it looks like, if your media target is the highly coveted imaginary American between the ages of 18-34, Facebook is the medium for you.

We always knew that Facebook was an amazing company, but their ability to reach non-existent people sets a new standard for the online ad industry – which has always prided itself in imaginary advertising accomplishments.

Perhaps the only area in which Facebook can exceed its amazing use of metrics is its amazing use of language. When they were asked to explain the bullshit they were peddling, they had this to say about their numbers…

“They are designed to estimate how many people in a given area are eligible to see an ad a business might run. They are not designed to match population or census estimates.”

Oh.

This post first appeared on Bob Hoffman’s blog the Ad Contrarian. You can read the original here.

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