80 Percent of Facebook Ad Clicks Came From Bots, Firm Says

A New York-based startup is ditching Facebook after it discovered some questionable activity on the social network's ad platform.

Limited Run, which develops e-commerce platforms for musicians and labels, claims that 80 percent of the clicks for which Facebook was charging came from bots, not real Facebook users.

The company said it discovered the problem several months ago in preparation for the launch of the new Limited Run. "We noticed some very strange things. Facebook was charging us for clicks, yet we could only verify about 20 percent of them actually showing up on our site," Limited Run said in a blog post.

Thinking there might be a problem with its analytics service, Limited Run signed up for other services, but it still couldn't verify more than 15-20 percent of the clicks. The firm then built its own analytic software and found that about 80 percent of the clicks for which Facebook was charging came from sources where JavaScript was not turned on.

"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 percent of people coming to us have JavaScript disabled, not 80 percent like these clicks coming from Facebook," Limited Run said. "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 percent of clicks we were paying for were from bots."

Limited Run said it tried to contact Facebook about the problem, but got no response. "Are we accusing Facebook of using bots to drive up advertising revenue. No. Is it strange? Yes," the firm wrote.

When asked about the bots, a Facebook spokesman said "we're currently investigating their claims."

Limited Run also took issue with an effort to change its name from Limited Pressing to Limited Run. According to the company, Facebook would only allow the name change if it agreed to spend $2,000 more per month on advertising. As a result, Limited Run has decided to delete its Facebook page.

"They're scumbags and we just don't have the patience for scumbags," the company said.

"For their issue with the Page name change, there seems to be some sort of miscommunication," the Facebook spokesman said. "We do not charge Pages to have their names changed. Our team is reaching out about this now."

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