Pivotal Research Group finds Facebook inflating viewership data for its ads

This is the second time that Facebook has been found manipulating its metrics to boost its revenues.

As per an analyst at Pivotal Research Group, Facebook Inc is inflating the number of people who can see advertisements on its platform.

While Facebook’s Ads Manager claims to reach 41 million people in the age group of 18- to 24 and 60 million in the age group of 25- to 34 in the United States, it is on contrast to U.S. census data which shows that in 2016, 31 million people where between the ages of 18-24 and 45 million in the age group of 25-34.

“While Facebook’s measurement issues won’t necessarily deter advertisers from spending money with Facebook, they will help traditional TV sellers justify existing budget shares and could restrain Facebook’s growth in video ad sales on the margins,” said Brian Wieser, a research analyst, who maintains a ‘sell’ rating on the stock with a price target of $140 for year-end 2017.

According to Facebook, “they (reach estimates) 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.”

In response to the research note, Facebook issued a statement which stated, its estimations are based on several factors, including behavior, user demographics and location data from devices.

In September 2016, Facebook told advertisers that the average time users spent viewing online ads was artificially inflated, since it considers three seconds, as its benchmarks, for a view. In November, Facebook launched a new blog, Metrics FYI, on its website called, to share updates and corrections for its data.

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