Facebook Click Fraud Enraging Advertisers (Updated)

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Facebook has a big revenue target this year – $550 million, according to investors who were pitched in the last round of funding. That’s nearly twice 2008 revenues of $280 million.

A big part of that revenue comes from cost-per-click advertising from small self serve advertisers. And right now those advertisers aren’t very happy. They’ve been complaining about click fraud of up to 100% for weeks, and the situation doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

Scores of complaints can be found at WickedFire, where advertisers are complaining of massive click fraud and an indifferent Facebook. A few of the recent posts (excuse the language):

Tracking 202 is telling me 11 clicks….Facebook is telling me 145. That’s way off the 15-20%, is there a different margin for tracking 202 than there is prosper 202 or did I suffer from one of those click bots?

Sucks how high the numbers are today. Its clear the problem is getting worse daily. I’ve moved most of my shit off facebook for the time being and magically my shit is all positive again. Crazy how that works. There are lots of places to buy traffic, some that will even actually give you the traffic you are paying for. Facebook is never going to admit to whats going on. I can almost guarantee you that.

Facebook is still reporting 20% more clicks than I actually get. This is bullshit. If I were at least getting bot traffic or something that would be one thing, but right now Facebook is simply stealing 20% of clicks that I paid for, which adds up to thousands of dollars. Someone should threaten legal action, this is straight up fraud on Facebook’s part.

FB click fraud update: ratio is now EXACTLY 10:1. 10 clicks reported on FB, 1 click on prosper. No, this wasnt on a small scale either. Were talking 1000′s of clicks. Have fun facebook. Im checking out till you can fix this shit.

I’m targeting small, specific demos, Facebook reports exactly twice as many clicks as hit my LP. Facebook is stealing our money, fuck this shit.

This is experienced by not just those that use 202. When in doubt, look at your raw apache logs – which I did. The result: 15% – 20% clicks never make it to my LP. Clearly a case of click-fraud going on. Tested on 3 different servers at 3 different DCs (not a network issue).

These aren’t the standard click fraud complaints that advertisers have leveled against search engines for years. In those cases, bots are racking up the fake clicks, which obviously never convert to any sort of purchase or other action. But at least the advertisers see the clicks.

In this case advertisers are saying that Facebook is recording and charging for clicks that don’t exist at all, even from bots. Their tracking software (many use Prosper202, but others are using raw Apache logs) shows one set of numbers, which is 20% – 100% lower than what Facebook is recording.

According to the WickedFire posts Facebook isn’t officially acknowledging the problem or giving any refunds so far. But they are asking some advertisers to send in logs to show the discrepancy. So far, advertisers who go to the trouble to do this aren’t getting the response they wanted: “I was asked to send in my logs so I spent over an hour compiling logs over the time period in question, and they replied with their fucking scripted bullshit. I was sooo fucking pissed, since I took the time to do that and they churn out a 2 second response.”

We have an email in to Facebook for comment. Image is from a 2006 BusinessWeek report on click fraud.

Update: From the comments below (update here) -

This is Brandon on the Facebook communications team. I wanted to chime in to make sure that our voice was part of this discussion and to clarify how we are addressing this issue.

We take click quality very seriously and have a series of measures in place to detect it. We have large volumes of data to analyze click patterns and can identify suspicious activity quickly.

Over the past few days, we have seen an increase in suspicious clicks. We have identified a solution which we have already begun to implement and expect will be completely rolled out by the end of today. In addition, we are identifying impacted accounts and will ensure that advertisers are credited appropriately.

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