Boy, it just hasn’t been Facebook’s summer: a high-profile dumping by General Motors was followed by a busted IPO in May, and its stock continues to sink -- trading at $21.77 at the time of writing, down 43% from the IPO price. Meanwhile, a new eye-tracking study has cast (even more) doubt on Facebook’s ability to monetize mobile traffic through advertising. But the most damaging news may come courtesy of a New York-based start-up, Limited Run, which claims that 80% of the clicks on its Facebook ads came from bots.
In a much-circulated blog post, Limited Run, which offers Web site services to artists and musicians, informed fans that it is deleting its Facebook page and moving over to Twitter, with the following explanation, which I have taken the liberty of re-posting at length:
Now, 80% seems like an egregiously high proportion of traffic coming from bots, and it may very well be that Limited Run had spectacularly bad luck (or was being fraudulently attacked by a competitor aiming to run up ad costs) – thus making it an anomalous case. But what if it isn’t? All those commonly-heard complaints about Facebook advertising “not working” would suddenly start to make a lot more sense.
What needs to happen now is a wider investigation by online ratings firms, advertising and media agencies, and any interested (and competent) tech firms and individuals, to see if they can, in good empirical fashion, replicate Limited Run’s results. Certainly nobody can deny that Limited Run’s anecdotal evidence is food for thought.