Forever (probably), but at least for decades the media has hyped their “readership,” “viewership,” or whatever. They have tried to convince potential advertisers that they have the precise audience the advertiser needs and lots of them. For a long time their word was the only source of information.
Later, due to skepticism at least, these self-reported “viewers” began to be measured by independent 3rd parties like Nielson. This began to add credibility and true knowledge and insights for potential advertisers; and made rates potentially more realistic based on “audited” audience sizes.
The advent of pay-per-click mitigated that to some extent because the advertiser now pays for clicks not eyeballs. An improvement, but as anyone knows those clicks can be crap and you pay anyway. And, the first order effect of whether those clicks will be valuable is tied to the audience.
Well, here we are back at the beginning. Facebook announced they were removing over 500MM fake users. That represents over 25% of their stated users. Seriously, 25% of their users were not real? Did they not know this, or was it not in their best interest to report it? And this is only the beginning. Why?
How many dead people are on Facebook still? They can’t remove themselves and without their password their heirs can’t either. So how many dead people are still on Facebook? And is that more or less than the number of dead people who vote in Chicago?
Bottom line for me is something I learned long ago: The more things change, the more they stay the same.