Business owners, both in B2C and B2B, have become increasingly interested in Facebook ads, also known as ‘paid social. It is unfortunate that the rapid growth of the market has resulted in an increase in the prevalence of ad fraud and fake clicks in the advertising ecosystem.
Approximately 270 million Facebook accounts are fake or duplicated by more than two billion users. There are almost as many people in that country as there are in the United States. These accounts are being used by fraudsters in order to click ads, which has an adverse impact on advertisers both in terms of wasting their advertising budgets and damaging their brand reputations.
It is important for advertisers to be aware of what exactly fake clicks on Facebook are and the potential risks they pose to their firm’s advertising budget and revenue.
The majority of click fraud on Facebook is caused by fake clicks or invalid clicks. Clicks are most likely to come from the following sources:
- Bots and web crawlers are examples of automated traffic
- In order to increase the popularity and traffic of a website or page, click farms are used
- Your competitors are seeking to deplete your advertising budget
- Uninterested parties, such as those browsing or accidentally clicking on your advertisement.
There are many instances in which genuine advertisements are intended to defraud potential customers. In most cases, they advertise cryptocurrency, health products, or sign-ups for fake diet programs. In one example where counterfeit goods and diet pills were promoted, the true destination of the link was disguised in the ad, resulting in one version of the landing page being shown to Facebook’s systems and a different version being shown to users.
When Michael became concerned about fake likes and profiles appearing on these campaigns, he contacted the BBC. In order to investigate the accuracy of Facebook’s advertising campaigns, their Tech Correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones set up an imaginary small business (which did not exist).
The first advertisement was created with Virtual Bagel, with a small investment of just $10, and within 24 hours the page had attracted 1,600 likes. In order to increase the number of likes, he tinkered with his settings, targeting the United States, the United Kingdom, and India. Within four days, he had 3,000 people liking (and following) the fake business page.
As a result of the video posted by the popular science video blog Veritasium in 2014, many marketers became concerned about the extent of false clicks and advertisements on Facebook. As a result, there are large numbers of fake spam profiles that are only used to drive paid likes sold by third-party websites. Here is how it works:
- This profile is paid for by a third-party website, or it is created by the seller, to like 50 different pages from brands or businesses.
- To prevent Facebook from determining whether they are genuine or not, they must disguise the fact that they are clicking on websites for which they have been paid.
- In order to conceal their activities, they click on random other pages and like them in an effort to dilute the percentage of paid-for likes on their Facebook profile.
- Because they click randomly, without ever reading or engaging with what they are liking, many followers are added as a result of a spammer or fake profile trying to disguise their paid activities.
Following a refusal by one of his clients to pay for his advertisements on the grounds that they had not reached “real people,” Tinmouth requested Facebook investigate the issue of questionable profiles.
The company informed him that the majority of the items were genuine and refused to meet with him to discuss the possibility of a refund. As mentioned above, Facebook has only admitted to issuing refunds in connection with its own lawsuit. Additionally, the company brought a lawsuit against a New Zealand-based platform that it claimed provided Instagram users with fake likes, views, and followers.
So, when it comes to advertising your products and services via Facebook, there are certainly those who are championing and developing solutions to mitigate against click fraud. However, there has not been much evidence that the social media giant is taking meaningful steps to combat the vast amount of fraud and false clicks in its advertising campaigns.