80% of Facebook Ad Clicks Coming from Bots?

Businesses that want to advertise on Facebook had better think twice before getting their wallets out, following claims that as many as 80% of clicks on Facebook ads are coming from bots instead of humans.

Limited Run, a start-up that offers a sales platform for musicians and record labels, says that it’s halting its Facebook advertising campaign after learning that four out of five clicks on its ads are completely worthless. In addition, the company is miffed that Facebook is apparently trying to force them to commit to buying $2,000 worth of advertising in order to change its Pages name on the site.

The start-up said that it’s now planning to delete its Facebook page entirely. It claims that only 20% of clicks on its ads come from real, human Facebook users, with the rest coming from bots – software that is programmed to run automated tasks.

Known as Limited Pressing on Facebook, the company revealed that it took several months, six campaign analytic services, plus its own analysis to figure out that most of its ad clicks were coming from robots:

“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.”

Limited Run explained how it drew these conclusions on its official blog, saying that it noticed about 80% of users who clicked on their ads had JavaScript turned off, something that throws a spanner in the works for analytic software used to verify clicks. In a normal scenario, only 1-2% of clicks should come with JavaScript switched off, added the company.

To get to the bottom of things, Limited Run installed a page logger into its site, which enabled it to discover that the non-JavaScript clicks were all coming from bots.

Tom Mango, co-founder of Limited Run, said that although the bot clicks were frustrating, that wasn’t their only reason for dumping Facebook. He claimed that Facebook had refused to allow the company to change its official Facebook page name, unless it agreed to spend $2,000 on advertising with the social media giant.

Fake clicks are not the only problem with Facebook advertising, it seems. Doubts have been raised over several quarters about the effectiveness of Facebook advertising, given the fact that it’s so difficult to verify clicks and optimize a campaign that delivers a sufficient ROI. Earlier this year we saw none other than General Motors drop its Facebook advertising campaign; the automobile maker claimed that its ads simply weren’t paying off, and that its budget could be used much more effectively elsewhere.

For sure, there has to be some value in Facebook advertising – especially if you like getting ‘likes’- but is it actually profitable? That remains to be seen.

Mango for one, doesn’t seem to think so:

“We just don’t want to deal with them anymore,” he said.