Facebook Advertising May Be a Scam: Report

Dennis Faas's picture

Facebook's business model is based on advertising. But one disgruntled advertiser claims 80 per cent of the "people" clicking on its advertisements aren't humans at all.

Limited Run is a website that lets musicians create an online store in which they can sell both physical CDs and digital content.

Like many businesses, Limited Run created a promotional page on Facebook and then began advertising on the social networking site to attract visitors to its own home page.

According to the company, however, it became suspicious that something was amiss when the details associated with the number of clicks on its advertisements didn't match up with the number of visitors directed to its site by Facebook.

Most Ad Clicks Brought No Visitors

The company tried out several different analysis services and consistently found that around 80 per cent of the clicks on its Facebook ads couldn't be verified as bringing a visitor to their site.

On further examination, Limited Run discovered that about 80 per cent of the clicks on its ads came from users that had JavaScript (a coding tool often used for interactive features on websites) switched off.

That's extremely unusual: only about two per cent of users on its own site have JavaScript switched off, mainly because doing so causes many web pages to misbehave and work improperly.

Limited Run decided to confirm its suspicions by individually checking every click on its advertisement. It then tried to determine who had made the clicks.

The company found that four out of every five clicks had come from "bots," which are computer programs simulating a human being, in this case one clicking on an ad.

That's a big problem for an advertiser because Facebook bases its charges on how many people click on an ad and follow the link. (Source: nytimes.com)

Bots Make Facebook Advertising Unproductive

If this is true, then most of the instances when Limited Run paid to receive the "click" nobody was actually doing the clicking or being connected to its site.

Limited Run says it has contacted Facebook about this matter, but hasn't yet received a response. Still, the music firm says it's not yet ready to conclude that Facebook is ripping off its advertisers.

"Do we know who the bots belong too?," Limited Run is quoted as saying. "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." (Source: limitedrun.com)

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