I read an article today posted at latimes.com that really got me thinking. The article entitle: "Start-up says 80% of its Facebook ad clicks came from bots" is about Limited Run, a start-up, who claims through their own research and analysis that 80% of the clicks to their Facebook ads were coming from bots.
While I have personally never done any research on this type of finding myself, I started wondering if the same type of thing was happening to me in my previous life. Prior to joining PAKRA as the Director of Marketing and Business Development, I was working with Manta.com, the world's largest online community for small business owners. While there, I ran thousands of campaigns through Facebook. As it turned out, we never really could get much success with it. Thinking back even more, we never could match up the clicks that Facebook told us we had with the traffic to our landing pages that our analytics told us we had. Looking back now, we probably should have done more to dig into that issue and really see what was going on (we spent much more time, effort and money in places that converted well).
I've seen mixed reviews regarding Facebook advertising. In my past, I've had success with it driving "likes", which is a very easy thing to do. The struggles come when it comes to driving traffic away from Facebook and to your own landing pages within your website. Maybe its because the audience is much different, but I could never get a very high conversion rate through Facebook. LinkedIn ads, Google Adwords and the Yahoo/Bing search alliance were all successful at converting traffic to leads, but not Facebook. I could drive lots of clicks through Facebook (by paying Cost Per Click), but when it came to converting, they were horrible. Was this because most of my clicks were faked (bots)? Was I reporting on bots? Was I spending money on bots? It always made me wonder. My ads were good enough to get high CTR's (Click Through Rates) on Facebook, but the landing pages weren't good enough to convert that traffic? You would like to think that if your ad generated interest, your landing page would enhance that interest to a much larger degree than it seemed to with Facebook traffic. Similar landing pages worked well with all other channels (Google, LinkedIn, Yahoo/Bing, etc.). We did test after test, but nothing changed. While I was very successful at increasing my CTR's (Click Through Rates) on Facebook, not much could be done about the conversion rates, which makes sense if the story from latimes.com holds true.
Does this type of thing happen more often than we know? Does Facebook know that its happening? Do they even care? While I am not currently running any Facebook advertising, I definitely will be keeping a close watch and tracking much more closely the next time I do. While I don't personally believe Facebook is out to take advantage of its advertisers, I could see things like this slipping through the cracks. How? I don't know...but I'm going to do more digging to find that out.
Have you had any experiences like this? What are your feelings about it? And do you agree?