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Advertiser Claims 80% of Facebook Ad Clicks are From Bots

July 30, 2012
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Social Media

Advertiser Claims that 80% of Facebook Ad Clicks Come From BotsLast month, we reported that the click-through rates on Facebook Ads average a dismal 0.04%, which is approximately 10x less than the equivalent display ad on the Google Display Network.

Today, e-commerce store builder Limited Run is claiming that 80% of the clicks paid for could not be verified! The company is so unhappy with the results on recent Facebook ad tests, they're deleting their Facebook page entirely.

Limited Run claimed that 80% of clicks that they were being charged for came from users who didn’t have JavaScript turned on. As of late 2010 the number of users who did not have JavaScript turned on in the US was only 2%. Seeing this information, Limited Run allegedly built their own analytics software that found 80% of the clicks were coming from bots. The company claims bots were loading pages to drive up advertising costs.

The company’s Facebook post states:

“Hey everyone, we're going to be deleting our Facebook page in the next couple of weeks, but we wanted to explain why before we do. A couple months ago, when we were preparing to launch the new Limited Run, we started to experiment with Facebook ads. Unfortunately, while testing their ad system, we noticed some very strange things. Facebook was charging us for clicks, yet we could only verify about 20% of them actually showing up on our site. At first, we thought it was our analytics service. We tried signing up for a handful of other big name companies, and still, we couldn't verify more than 15-20% of clicks. So we did what any good developers would do. We built our own analytic software. Here's what we found: on about 80% of the clicks Facebook was charging us for, JavaScript wasn't on. And if the person clicking the ad doesn't have JavaScript, it's very difficult for an analytics service to verify the click. What's important here is that in all of our years of experience, only about 1-2% of people coming to us have JavaScript disabled, not 80% like these clicks coming from Facebook. So we did what any good developers would do. We built a page logger. Any time a page was loaded, we'd keep track of it. You know what we found? The 80% of clicks we were paying for were from bots. That's correct. Bots were loading pages and driving up our advertising costs. So we tried contacting Facebook about this. Unfortunately, they wouldn't reply. Do we know who the bots belong too? No. Are we accusing Facebook of using bots to drive up advertising revenue. No. Is it strange? Yes. But let's move on, because who the bots belong to isn't provable.”

WordStream has attempted to contact the Facebook PR department regarding the allegations and has not yet received a response at the time of this writing.

Earlier this month, it was reported that more than 50 million fake Facebook accounts are bots created solely for the purpose of liking pages. Also this month, the BBC set up a fake bagel company that got 3000 likes from fake fans from a $10 ad campaign. Facebook advertising seems to have a problem with bots!

What are your experiences with the quality of traffic from your Facebook advertising? Is anyone else seeing this? (What the heck is going on with Facebook ads?!) Write your comments below!

UPDATE - August 2, 2012: Facebook has officially confirmed that 83 Million of their accounts are fake accounts/bots.

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Comments

CFP Exam (not verified)
Jul 31, 2012

I don't understand, I think these bots are somehow related to Facebook, maybe some program they use to cache pages or checking the page still exists.

I bet majority of people still don't know what you just shared. If its true.. its a miserable business.

 

Anonymous (not verified)
Aug 02, 2012

Wow, interesting read and if it could be proven that fabeook is behind this it would be devastating...  I'd like it if someone could take it a bit further and dummy it down a bit, wlak us through the actuall process of these "fake pages" 

 

 

Victor Pan
Aug 02, 2012

Click fraud on Facebook? Here's what facebook had to say in response

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2195723/Facebook-Responds-to-Accusations-of-Click-Fraud-Holding-Page-Name-Hostage

TLDR;

We're investigating on whether this is a new case, and we already have a preexisting policing systems in place that detects and resolves click fraud.

Sharon (not verified)
Aug 17, 2012

I have had the same experience for every page under Facebook's ad system, I now have a page with over 80,000 fans and not sure ANY are real. If I pay to promote a post I get over 300 likes and up to 30 comments...don't pay, maybe 7 likes and 0 comments. Something seriously fishy going on. Just not sure the third party applies considering the ads dashboard is private, so how would anyone know who I'm targeting? And today it looks like I have 3 new fans who started profiles TODAY and one of them already has over 1000 page likes all targeted to brand names, and only 8 friends.

Amanda (not verified)
Aug 21, 2012

I just started my first facebook ad campaign only to find that the only clicks I was receiving were from random users from all over the country.   I found this odd and decided to look at their profiles a little closer, and fouind that the one thing they all had in common was that they were all "liking" a ton of random pages per minute.  I was very put off by this and wondered if it was possible that facebook has accounts set up specifically to like pages so they can rake in the advertising bucks.  I narrowed my target audience to a very specific group which seems to have helped so far, but I'm watching closely and thinking of stopping the ad campaign completely...

Larry, interesting personal investment twist on FB shares. I'd like to add you to a story I'm doing on FB investor lessons. If you can, I'm at 816-234-4372, Mark Davis, The Kansas City Star

 

Aug 28, 2012

We just got a good amount of users to like our page, almost nobody seemed legit.

Everywhere else we get a click to our news, we get almost 80% of follow through to watch our video.

We were on blogs, news sites, forums, almost everywhere had a one-to-one of some kind of follow through.

Before advertising, every like was genuine, people followed through and watched the video. 

After the ads almost nobody commented, almost nobody watched the video, it was like ghosts were signing up.

It's very dissapointing how obviously flawed the Facebook ads system is.

This is not at all surprising!  I've had limited success with Facebook ads and I've personally seen so many fake accounts that it does make you wonder why they don't have better ways to sniff out and delete fake accounts.

Leopold (not verified)
Sep 15, 2012

While no one has proven that Facebook is the perpetrator of these bots, the question is: Who could possibly benefit from these bots besides Facebook?  And these bots "like" only pages that advertise on Facebook, and not other pages that do NOT advertise on Facebook.

While I could come up with some convoluted scenarios where someone with a competing social networking site wants to damage Facebook by making it look like Facebook is responsible for this, it is, nevertheless, convoluted.  Or, could a single investor (original or otherwise) who wants to pump up Facebook Shares be responsible?  Could be.

Could it be people on Fiverr.com that promise to get you hundreds of "likes" on your Facebook page?  Yeah, could be.  Why someone would want hundreds of fake "likes" is beyond me, but maybe someone has an ego problem.  Don't see how that helps the ego though.  It's just strange behavior.  And it also doesn't explain how this would cause "likes" on pages of companies that did not partake in this nonsense.  If someone did, they would know about it.  They wouldn't be complaining about fake likes.  And usually those likes would not be linked through by the ads themselves either, but directly by the page.

But the bottom line is: Facebook is STILL responsible.  It is easy to find accounts that like hundreds of pages per minute.  It's easy to find accounts that only "like" pages but have no posts or interactions with people.  If they want to be a billion dollar company, they need to act like it.

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