Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Facebook Click Fraud?

Facebook’s page promotion is apparently a waste of money. Derek Muller, the YouTube sensation behind the channel Veritasium, explains exactly why advertising your page is not only useless, but also transforms your page into a target for click fraud.



First of all, there are two ways to increase your likes on Facebook – the legitimate way, and the illegitimate way.


Illegitimate Likes


Let’s begin with the illegitimate way. You can go to certain websites such as www.boostlikes.com and purchase certain packages that claim to get you more likes and “improve your reputation”. However, the likes that you will obtain from these types of websites are actually from “click farms”. These click farms do not actually provide your Facebook page with legitimate likes in the sense that the users liking the page do not necessarily like the content, and will therefore be less likely to engage/interact with the page.


Facebook Fraud - Boost Likes Packages Facebook Fraud – Boost Likes Packages


What is a click farm?


Facebook Fraud - Click Farms Facebook Fraud – Click Farms


A click farm is a form of click fraud, where a large group of low-paid workers is hired to click on paid advertising links for the click fraudster (click farm master or click farmer). The workers click the links, surf the target website for a period of time, and possibly sign up for newsletters prior to clicking another link. For many of these workers, clicking on enough ads per day may increase their revenue substantially and may also be an alternative to other types of work. It is extremely difficult for an automated filter to detect this simulated traffic as fake because the visitor behaviour appears exactly the same as that of an actual legitimate visitor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Click_farm


Legitimate Likes


Facebook Fraud - Legitimate Promotion Facebook Fraud – Legitimate Promotion


On the other hand, legitimate likes are through Facebook’s page promotion, which guarantees that you’ll connect with more of the people that matter to you. However, this is where the fraud comes into play. Muller had tried to legitimately promote his Veritasium page a few years ago and realized that his likes did in fact grow, yet his page engagement didn’t. He also noticed that many of his newfound likes were also coming from developing countries in which these click farms were situated.


Facebook Fraud - Page Engagement Facebook Fraud – Veritasium’s Page Engagement


Virtual Cat


Suspicious of this behaviour, he recently conducted an experiment. Muller created another Facebook page, Virtual Cat, (similar to VirtualBagel https://www.facebook.com/VirtualBagel) designed to be so purposely awful that no sentient being would click on it, and then paid Facebook to promote that one too.


Facebook Fraud Virtual Cat Facebook Fraud Virtual Cat


People did end up clicking on it almost immediately, but in Muller’s opinion, a close examination indicated that it was unlikely that they were genuine fans of his horrible page. Most of these people were wildly indiscriminate in their “liking” behaviour, clicking the like button on hundreds and hundreds of random pages.


Effects of Click Fraud


In essence, Facebook’s own click fraud is not only hurting their reputation, but also their users. Users like Muller who are able to make their living from YouTube videos end up suffering because although they pay Facebook to legitimately promote their page, they receive fake likes, which in turn deprive him of advertising dollars that he’d otherwise received from YouTube views (because fake likers don’t actually watch his videos. In addition, the fake likes also end up hurting his Facebook EdgeRank, which ultimately how prominently his videos get featured in the News Feed without any paid promotion at all (similar to Google’s PageRank).


Solution?


It’s easy to see which profiles are spamming, because they often have liked thousands and thousands of Facebook pages, which isn’t something the average Facebook user does. But again, you can’t force those people that unlike your page so that you can increase your engagement across true fans of your page. And unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that Facebook is doing much in the way of reducing the number of a spam profiles that are doing paid likes, despite their assurances that they are.  Bottom line: if you’re planning to do any Facebook advertising, ensure that your targeting only the countries you are primarily doing business in, and avoid those countries that have a lot of paid like activity.


Interesting in finding out more? Read more about Facebook’s click fraud Below:


Search Engine Watch


Salon