With Facebook claiming it is able to reach 2 million more people aged 15-40 in Australia than the estimated population measured by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it’s put the spotlight on how exactly Facebook measures its reach.
Facebook has pointed out that there are several factors as to why these numbers differ so greatly. For one Facebooks reach is a measure of how many people are in a location at a given time, rather than the residential population.
“Reach estimations are based on a number of factors, including Facebook user behaviours, user demographics, location data from devices, and other factors,” Facebook told AdNews.
“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. We are always working to improve our estimates.”
Quite often numbers in younger demographics will be far larger in Facebook’s reach estimates than the official records, whereas the reach estimates will be lower than official records for demographics over 40. This is consistent however with which demographics are most and least active on the social media platform.
Another reason for this difference in numbers could be that the census only accounts for Australian residents, whereas Facebook also counts non-residents using Facebook in Australia. Users are also able to choose their age on their Facebook profile, allowing for some discrepancy to occur.
Facebook’s data is regularly measured by independent third parties and is ‘found to be highly accurate’ says Facebook, any advertisers concerned about the accuracy of Facebooks demographic targeting can have Nielsen verify it.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this however is the importance for advertisers to look beyond just age demographics. While age is an important factor in targeting, using and understanding consumer’s interests, behaviours and locations can be just as effective in reaching them.