Limited Run Alleges 80 Percent Of Its Facebook Ad Clicks Were Bots

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Limited Run, a digital distribution outfit specializing in labels, musicians and artists, has decided to take down its Facebook account after discovering through its custom-built “page logger” that 80 percent of the clicks on its ads that Facebook was charging them for came from bots. The company compared the clicks its ads were getting from about six name-brand analytics services before building a custom tool to verify the results. “They all lined up,” Tom Mango, cofounder, told Fast Company. “Once that happened, we stopped our campaign.”


Limited Run (formerly known as Limited Press) posted a message describing its discoveries on its Facebook page, including the following sum-up, which is careful to avoid blame:

“Bots were loading pages and driving up our advertising costs. So we tried contacting Facebook about this. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t reply. Do we know who the bots belong too? No. Are we accusing Facebook of using bots to drive up advertising revenue. No. Is it strange? Yes.”

Limited Run explains that its custom platform recorded the number of page viewers who didn’t have JavaScript enabled. According to the company’s own analytics tool 80% of the clicks Facebook was charging for came from machines without JavaScript enabled. This confounds analytic software trying to verify the click is genuine, and, more importantly in the company’s experience only one to two percent of its human visitors had the feature disabled. The conclusion: Bots in action.

Mango told Fast Company that the trouble started when the company decided to change its name from “Limited Press” to “Limited Run” and started experimenting with advertising campaigns on Facebook. Facebook did not responded to the company about the issues its raised about clicks (and has not responded to our request for a comment yet), but an advertising account manager at Facebook did finally call in about the company’s requested name change. The company didn’t qualify for a name change because, per Facebook policy, a name is locked in for an account with more than 200 Likes, the accounts person explained, but if Limited Run spent an extra $2,000 on advertising per month, the name change would be possible. At this point Limited Run balked and decided to shut down their account entirely.

Not before it got its message out, however. “We want to make sure that the people who do follow us on Facebook can see our post and why we’re leaving,” Mango says. “We’ll shut it down in the next couple of weeks.”

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