Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is coming under fire from one of its customers today. A Facebook page by a young startup company, called Limited Pressing, claims that Facebook has been charging them for visitors that are not real.
The young entrepreneurs began testing Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s advertising service, in hopes of driving up revenue for their company. However, they found could only verify about 20% of the clicks their ads were receiving.
The first solution they tried, in order to locate the problem, was to change which company they used for analytics. They hoped this would fix the problem, and continued monitoring. However, after trying several new analytic programs, the company claims that they still received the same dismal results. They were only able to verify 20% of the people clicking on their ads.
After using multiple analytics software on the page, and getting similar results with all of them, the young startup designed their own analytic software to test their theory. Their software revealed that 80% of the clicks came from computers which had Java disabled. The standard for most people is to have this program running, with only 1% or so of Internet users disabling it.
All of these signs point to bots clicking on their ads, and driving their advertising cost up. When Limited Pressing tried to contact Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) about the problem, they received no reply.
This was just another straw on the camel’s back, between Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Limited Pressing. Their page further claims that they have changed their name to Limited Run, and wished to rename their page because of this choice. Facebook allegedly replied back, saying they would be more than welcome to change their name, provided they would spend $2000 per month on Facebook advertisements.
The owners of the young company have notified followers that they will no longer be on Facebook. They said
“Thanks to everyone who has supported this page and liked our posts. We really appreciate it. If you’d like to follow us on Twitter, where we don’t get shaken down.”
Following this statement, they left fans a link to their Twitter page.
Limited Run did respond to our questions with an email, stating that they feel that it was a list of bad experiences with customer service, which led them to delete their page. While the page is still viewable on the web, the company plans to delete it in the near future. The email also said, they are not accusing Facebook of owning the bots which clicked their ads, and that there is no indication of who owns them.
When we contacted Facebook about these allegations, they told us:
“'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.'”
Sadly, now may be too late to save their customer, or their public image.
In other news, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s stock has dropped 5% today, another dark sign for the social networking giant.
COMMENTARY: This is not the first time that display ad leaders Facebook, or Google for that matter, have been accused of padding clicks on display ads. However, this appears to be the first time that an advertiser went to such an extent to document that BOTS were being used. If Limited Run's (formerly Limited Pressing) allegations are correct, they should cite the specific ads, the periods that those ads ran, provide the raw data gathered including number of ads placed, amounts paid for ads, clicks by BOTS, clicks by real people, the names of the online analytics firms they used, and so forth. I would also like to know if Facebook ever acknowledged Limited Run's allegations that BOTS were used to runup ad clicks, and if it were the case, did Limited Run obtain a credit or refund for the BOT clicks.
For its part, Facebook denied that they charge users to change their homepage name. Just the same, I would like to know if there are any other incidences of BOTS being used to runup ad clicks on Facebook or other sites, for that matter. If you know of any, please post a comment.
Here's the entire text about the incident on Limited Run's inactive Facebook page.
"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 $2000 or more in advertising a 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."
"Thanks to everyone who has supported this page and liked our posts. We really appreciate it. If you'd like to follow us on Twitter, where we don't get shaken down, you can do so here: http://twitter.com/limitedrun"
Courtesy of an article dated July 31, 2012 appearing in ValueWalk