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80% of Ad Clicks on Facebook Coming from Bots? Maybe it’s Cyber-Insider-Trading

Posted by Bob Warfield on July 31, 2012

Fascinating story over on Techcrunch:  Startup Limited Run claims 80% of the clicks it got through Facebook advertising were due to bots.  They concluded this because so many of the clicks had Javascript disabled (they say normally only 1-2% disable Javascript) and because whatever was clicking through wasn’t bothering to fetch the images on the page.  Lastly, the clickers were claiming to be non-standard software, not the usual contingent of Chrome, Internet Explorer, and other browsers.

Sounds pretty damning, no?

If Limited Run’s experience turns out to be the norm for Facebook, you have to take the next step and think about 2 things:

1.  Facebook is only 20% as successful as it claims and that’ll mean another huge hit to their stock price along with more lawsuits.  Who wants to take a short position on this news?

2.  You have to wonder who built and is paying for these bots and why?  The only good answer I can think of is that it would be someone with a vested interest in either raising ad revenues for Facebook (those darned cyber-insider-traders are manipulating the stock!) or someone who wanted to radically increase advertising costs for Limited Run.  Either way they are up to no good.

Quick entrepreneurs–how fast can you throw together a tool, product, or service that helps companies measure and document advertising fraud?  They need solid data to negotiate with the likes of Google or Facebook and get any money back.

2 Responses to “80% of Ad Clicks on Facebook Coming from Bots? Maybe it’s Cyber-Insider-Trading”

  1. emmakille said

    Hi Bob!
    I didn’t know about this..I agree with you.
    Thanks for introducing!

  2. The issue of fraud traffic – and in particular bots – within the media buying business is staggering.

    Experiences at UK tech start-up TrafficCake.com showed even reputable ad-networks delivering 30%+ fraud traffic, whilst some of the smaller traffic sellers, particularly those targeting small affiliates and internet marketers unashamedly send 100% bot traffic. They continue to operate with impunity, often from territories beyond the grasp of authorities. When their website or Pay-Pal account is shut down they simply open up new identities.

    Traffic buying needs to be more safe and transparent. Knowledge is important – traffic buyers need to know what steps they can take to protect themselves.

    And don’t forget if 30%+ of all online marketing ad spend is fake – that’s a lot of money going missing from legitimate parts of our economy.

    “Quick entrepreneurs–how fast can you throw together a tool, product, or service that helps companies measure and document advertising fraud? They need solid data to negotiate with the likes of Google or Facebook and get any money back.”

    ..it’s there with TrafficCake.com. And you’re right, unless the likes of Facebook and other ad-networks clean their act up they’ll not only be on the wrong end of customer wrath and refunds, but stock drops and class-action law-suits!

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