Startup discovers 80% of Facebook ad clicks coming from bots

By on July 31, 2012, 11:00 AM

A small startup known as Limited Run has publically decided to withdraw their presence from Facebook over concerns about the social network’s advertising practices. According to Limited Run, only 20 percent of ad clicks actually come from real people; the remaining 80 percent are all bot-generated.

The company became suspicious while testing Facebook’s ad system for the launch of their new brand. During these tests, they noticed that the social network was charging them for clicks but they could only verify that 20 percent of those clicks were actually showing up on their site. They tried multiple analytics services which all showed the same results.

Limited Run even went so far as to develop their own analytics software. Data from this program showed that JavaScript was disabled on 80 percent of clicks originating from Facebook. According to a post on their Facebook page (which will soon be deleted), if a person clicking an ad doesn’t have JavaScript enabled, it’s very difficult to verify the click. In their years of experience, only 1-2 percent of users surf without JavaScript, not 80 percent.

To further back up these claims, they built a page logger to keep track of each click coming into their site from Facebook. This data indeed showed that 80 percent of the clicks they were paying for were from bots.

Limited Run co-founder Tom Mango told TechCrunch that his company reached out to Facebook but all they received were canned responses. He further noted that they spent nearly a month testing and confirming all of their data just to be sure but he doesn’t blame the social network for what happened.

Mango says it could just as easily be a competitor running a DOS attack to drive up their advertising rates but he wishes Facebook would at least acknowledge the situation or attempt to do something to stop it.

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