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Millions of bots wasting millions of bucks

Facebook online advertising bots

Facebook's omnipotent platform of advertising allows you to reach eyes in all corners of the world. Surely, it must be legit?

August 5, 2012 1:31 by

When the online advertising model began to grow, a lot of businesses were wary but excited. They were wary about the acceptance of such a fresh concept representing any kind of success to them when they have, for so long, relied on print advertising, radio and television. Jumping head first into the icy water wasn’t easy nor is it easy now but it is developing as we speak.

The businesses were excited at the prospect of monitoring second to second details, making promises to their clients that they could actually keep and knowing exactly how many times their advertisements were viewed or even better; clicked. They could keep an eye on everything while knowing whether they were getting their money’s worth.

However, they began to learn that the digital age is a curse and a blessing, because as much as we owe the Internet for our daily dose of work, success, entertainment, connectivity and information it still remains an open sewer and in an open sewer, you can trust very few. Facebook for instance has over 950 million users that sign in from all around the globe which meant that a business could potentially afford to target the eyes of anyone in any part of the world. Having the power to display yourself to the age and gender of your choice to anybody in any city in the world at the click of a mouse sure is tempting, isn’t it?

What if you found out that your hard earned dollars may be going to waste though; going down the wrong end of the sewer? Facebook’s business model relies on its advertising worth and if that worth declines then Google beams. Why would the most popular social network on earth lose its advertising value, you might wonder. Well, according to company filings published by the company, a figure close to 10 percent of their total users have been described as fake accounts and this comes at a time of heavy interrogation and scrutiny for the social giant.

Over 83 million Facebook accounts are deemed to be fake and categorized into different categories of illegitimate accounts. The categories that make them, from an advertising point of view, a waste of space are duplicate profiles – belonging to already registered users –made up the highest percentage. The second was user-misclassified accounts that include personal profiles for businesses or pets and finally the last percentage of illegitimate profiles were described as “undesirable”.

Following a report by the BBC, when they investigated the effect that this would have on advertisers, the spokesperson dismissed the problem. “We’ve not seen evidence of a significant problem,” a spokesman told the BBC.

Whether they may have seen a significant problem is irrelevant, because it is certain that advertisers have and continue to do, as they continue to doubt Facebook and demand proof that the clicks their advertisements are receiving are real. Many companies are beginning to wise up and demand answers, only to find that the social network may be less than hospitable.

A digital distribution firm Limited Press, were one of the many companies that took its own initiative to investigate the matter. According to their own analytics software, 80 percent of the received clicks on its Facebook advertisements had come from fake users, otherwise known as bots.

“Bots were loading pages and driving up our advertising costs. So we tried contacting Facebook about this. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t reply,” the UK based company posted on their Facebook page. “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.”

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1 Comment

  1. Sohan on August 5, 2012 3:00 pm

    Duplicate profiles are not a problem. Either they are being used (in the cases of people who want to maintain separate accounts for work and friends), in which case it’s not much different from having a single profile (it would only affect the numbers of unique users). If they are not (which is more likely, as people forget passwords or want to start afresh, and just create new accounts), they still don’t affect advertisers either way. As for bot accounts, this is a problem any advertiser needs to deal with, even on Google Ads. With crowdsourcing, it becomes even harder to intercept bots.


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