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Archive for July, 2012

Robots are 80% of Facebook ad traffic?

by Henry Copeland
Monday, July 30th, 2012

Limited Run, a company that helps artists and musicians sell products online, says that 80% of the clicks they bought through Facebook ads came from robots.

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.

When Limited Run tried to get more information from Facebook… silence. “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.”

In the comments, the CEO of Yousites says the same thing happened to his company.

And here’s a deep dive into Facebook “likes” from bots, which concludes that “someone or a group of someones is utilizing bot networks and compromised accounts to sell actions in Facebook, and the voluminous Liking is a byproduct of attempting to randomize any patterns that would identify their core network or their customers.”

And while we’re on the topic of clickbots, don’t forget last year’s attack of the bimbots!

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