Are You Getting Real Traffic From Your FaceBook Clicks?

Industry Insight

SalesWarp - Facebook Marketing

While it seems indisputable that online platforms like Facebook can be used as a valuable marketing tool, there are dissenters starting to come out of the woodwork.

Now that businesses have been using the popular social medium for a while, it’s possible to start quantifying the real-world effects of using Facebook and other sites in terms of return of investment.

One such company is Limited Run, a startup that makes a software platform for musicians and labels to sell physical products like vinyl records. The principals from Limited Run claim they have reached the final straw with its experience as a small business advertising on Facebook — and as a result is completely withdrawing its presence on the social networking platform.

The core issue is that Limited Run says it has discovered 80 percent of the clicks it is receiving on Facebook appear to be coming from bots, rather than real people. The company explained the situation in a message on its Facebook page (which Limited Run says it will delete in the coming days) which has also been picked up in an increasingly popular thread on Hacker News:

“A couple months ago, when we were preparing to launch the new Limited Run, we started to experiment with Facebook ads. 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. 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.”

Tech Crunch reached Limited Run co-founder Tom Mango, who provided a bit more context on the situation. Before building their own analytics program, Mango and his co-founder used six or seven outside analytics services including Click and Google Analytics.

Those all showed “roughly the same stats” on the client side as Limited Run’s own analytics program — that 80 percent of visitors from Facebook clicks weren’t registering images from Limited Run’s site, which may indicate that it wasn’t truly being visited by a person. Next, Limited Run built tracking into the server side of their app, where any URLs coming in from their Facebook ad campaigns were logged to Limited Run’s database. Those requests weren’t loading any of Limited Run’s client side assets, either.