UPDATED: Ecommerce Provider Pulling Facebook Page, Claims Click-Throughs From Bots

By David Cohen 

Facebook’s emphasis on social advertising expressed during its second-quarter earnings call Thursday fell on deaf ears at one company, as ecommerce site Limited Run announced in a strongly worded post on Facebook that it will pull the plug on its Limited Pressing Facebook page “in the next couple of weeks.”

CNET was the first to report on the post by Limited Run, which listed the following issues with Facebook:

  • 80 percent of click-throughs to its page from Facebook were initiated by bots, according to a page logger that it built when it found that only 20 percent of click-throughs were actually arriving at its site.
  • Facebook would not allow the company to change the name of its page from Limited Pressing (its old name) to Limited Run unless it committed to at least $2,000 in advertising per month.

UPDATED: Facebook responded with the following statement:

We’re currently investigating their claims. For their issue with the page name change, there seems to be some sort of miscommunication. We do not charge pages to have their names changed. Our team is reaching out about this now.

As for the bot theory, Facebook ads are only visible by logged-in users, and the social network does have systems in place to monitor suspicious click activity, including repetitive clicks from a single user or those that appear to be coming from a bot, as well as to monitor whether or not JavaScript is enabled.

Facebook also requires requests for changes to page names to be routed through its team in order to avoid confusion, but it does not charge.

The company provides ecommerce services for artists, labels, and designers, and it was founded in 2009. Its complete note follows:

Hey everyone: We’re going to be deleting our Facebook page in the next couple of weeks, but we wanted to explain why before we do. A couple of months ago, when we were preparing to launch the new Limited Run, we started to experiment with Facebook ads. Unfortunately, while testing its ad system, 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. 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 percent to 20 percent 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 percent 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 percent to 2 percent of people coming to us have JavaScript disabled, not 80 percent, 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 percent of clicks we were paying for were from bots. That’s correct: Bots were loading pages and driving up our advertising costs. So we tried contacting Facebook about this. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t reply. Do we know who the bots belong to? No. Are we accusing Facebook of using bots to drive up advertising revenue? No. Is it strange? Yes. But let’s move on, because who the bots belong to isn’t provable.

While we were testing Facebook ads, we were also trying to get Facebook to let us change our name, because we’re not Limited Pressing anymore. We contacted them on many occasions about this. Finally, we got a call from someone at Facebook. They said they would allow us to change our name. NICE! But only if we agreed to spend $2,000 or more in advertising per month — that’s correct: Facebook was holding our name hostage. So we did what any good hardcore kids would do. We cursed that piece of shit out! Damn we were so pissed. We still are. This is why we need to delete this page and move away from Facebook. They’re scumbags and we just don’t have the patience for scumbags.

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Readers: Pretty strong accusations, no?