Facebook Announces Its Fake Ad Numbers Are Going to Get Even Faker

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Facebook Announces Its Fake Ad Numbers Are Going to Get Even Faker
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It’s implicitly understood that the roughly $200 billion that folks are expected to spend on digital ads this year in the US will be spent on more than a few phony figures, puffed-up sales pitches, and numbers that are just, well blatantly fake. It’s just a reality in the industry and no one is immune. But some of those numbers are going to be faker than others. Case in point: last week, Facebook quietly rolled out an update to the way it counts users on the platform, essentially saying it will start counting people’s Instagram and Facebook accounts as… two separate users. The reason? To milk more money from advertisers, of course!

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Just to back up a bit, Facebook charges advertisers a certain amount based on the performance of their particular Facebook ad. What “performance” means varies from ad to ad, but in a nutshell, advertisers plunk down a certain amount of money (a “budget”) into Facebook’s ad systems and tell the company what they want end users to do when they see their ad—like clicking on the ad, or hitting the like button underneath it, for example.

After 30 days of the ad running, Facebook tallies how many users clicked, liked, or downloaded the product being advertised, and it charges advertisers based on the total number of users that took that step. In other words, the more users interact with an ad the more money that Facebook can charge—and sometimes, each of these interactions can run close to $6 a pop.

The way that Facebook used to measure each of these individual users made a lot of sense. According to Graham Mudd, Facebook’s VP of Product Marketing, the company would count one user with, say, a separate Facebook and Instagram account as one user if the company believed that those accounts were owned by a single person.