Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Facebook Fraud [video] (youtube.com)
1678 points by fanfantm on Feb 10, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 393 comments

Nice video. All true. I have performed tests with the same ad budget ($20k) and target audience for Google and FB. FB ROI was negative. Google ROI was 400% (travel space). The only thing that seemingly "works" has been buying likes by advertising. This video should help educate my clients of the utter uselessness of those too.

This brings up the interesting question of the general (non)value of a lot of mobile advertising. High impressions, super-low click rates, with many "falsies" because of tricks by the developer, eg where the advert is shown at random, quickly covering up parts of the user interface or extremely close to legitimate user interface elements.

Case in point, the app "Reddit in Pictures" bounces its adverts up and down at the bottom of the screen. If the advert were static, you wouldn't make the mistake of clicking on them, however, due to the bounce it has happened to me at least 20 times in the past month.

In short: for me the only valuable advert is a google advert... visible at the time when people have actually expressed interest in a topic/product, because they search for it. Note: google display network advertising is equally useless/fraudulent.

Since it was my post, let me hijack the hijack and refocus the discussion.

FB advertising has major issues and not just fraud.

#1 - FB has a feedback loop issue

The main reason why (for us) Google works so much better, is that it spans the full sales funnel, from impression to click to registration and finally conversion (room bought).

Google optimizes ad serving for themselves AND for me, and I can see the results. As long as they generate more revenue for my client at an acceptable cost per conversion (sales, not likes) we will spend more on google. Google isn't just taking, it's giving (a lot). As long as the last segment, ie actual conversions affecting ad serving, is missing, google will remain our favorite marketing channel.

#2 - Facebook has a major intent issue.

Eyeballs are nice, but only if those eyeballs have the intent to convert/purchase, which is rarely the case for high price, non-luxury and non-lifestyle items on the FB site itself, unlike a lead generated by google's search engine.

I have read about the "tricks" to minimize useless clicks and learned about some more below, but it really shouldn't be that hard.

PS I do realize that my situation is quite specific - see comment above or below, hospitality industry, busy market, price-sensitive audience, not a big brand name, etc. It may work for you, it just doesn't work for us, and not just because of the fake likes.

Regarding #1 - Facebook conversion pixel (a JS script that has to be loaded the HTML header) solves the feedback loop problem.


Thanks. Quickly glanced over this page (I wasn't aware of this option, I admit) but can anyone tell me if the conversion pixel is just a tracker for conversion, or whether it actually affects ad serving? I know on google it does.

Anecdote: once had a Google advert that resulted in many more clicks, but another advert was served more. When I inquired about this, google staff explained that the other advert had fewer clicks, but resulted in more (or actual) revenue. I did not have to manually track the results of the campaign and adjust, it was adjusted for me.

You can optimize based on the expected rate of conversion.

Is there a native mobile equivalent for this? Identifying our FB ad cohort is a major problem when trying to calculate the effectiveness of our ad spend on FB.

Yes, there are dozens of preferred marketing developers who provide this service.

In my experience, Facebook actually has the best performing ads with respect to measurable financial objectives.

I think facebook's official mobile SDK will let you do this.

Well, since you're "here"

Here's the question I'd want to ask: if the Facebook ad clicks are from click-farms but you don't pay for them, how did they get there?

One guess would be that click-farm people like stuff at random to "seem legitimate". Maybe Facebook itself incentivizes fake account to like stuff by not deleting fake accounts that behave "conveniently".

But that's just a guess, I've look for someone to do more research.

Jesus, did you watch the video that's subject of the post, or are you just posting, since "you are here." This is exactly the information that the video covers, with animations, explanations, and even links to sources.

I wish we are sufficiently close to a time, when automated comment-comprehending and comment-curating software - like browser extensions and plugins - are widely available, thanks to advances made in the areas of (textual) Deep Learning and (textual) Artificial Intelligence.

Perhaps then, clumsy comments like the one made by joe_the_user:

  One guess would be that click-farm people like stuff at
  random to "seem legitimate".
could be neatly redacted by the extension, without affecting the rest of the comment.

I surely hope so.

Some of the comments that surface to the top of the heap, are head-achingly dreadful.

Including this one, ironically. x0054 called out the problem, no need to pile on with nothing more of any particular value to add.

My comment is less ironic than you might discern.

History is rife with far wilder inventions than the comment-curating 'contraption' that I describe, that have been conceived and crafted, drawing from a far smaller source of inspiration than the clumsy comment made by joe_the_user.

In all probability, the sort of thing, I describe, would never materialize in the foreseeable future. It could just be a figment of my imagination.

The leaps and bounds that are required for such comment-comprehension - especially the two step thing needed for the software to assimilate the contents of the video and then contextually-observe that joe_the_user has not viewed the video, just by reading his comment - are probably far too great for the current state of Deep Learning and AI (someone well versed in these areas could chime in).

Or perhaps such advents in content curation - unbeknownst to us - are already afoot.

Surely then your quick dismissing of my "value-less" comment could be the butt of jokes for posterity.

Time will decide.

You're writing a lot of words without actually saying anything. You can try and dress your original comment up all you want, but all you were doing was kicking someone while they were down to make yourself feel superior, while attempting to disguise it in the form of some highbrow but vague speculation of some future technology without providing anything of concrete value about it. This is HN, we're all aware of the possibilities of strong AI, but unless you've got a github account with a demo in it or some new algorithm, you're just spouting bs.

(Also, you really don't want to end the world just to get better hn comment threads. Strong AI is scary, man)

The idea floated in this earlier Next Web article cited in the video is that click-farmers make use of the Page Suggestion feature, i.e. each time they like a Page FB suggests a new page they might also like to "like". What was once a useful service for discovery for legit users may have turned into the click-farmers' best friend.


The parent comment author is not the original video author, given his appreciative comments for the video. (Not sure otherwise what you meant by 'Well, since you're "here"')

As to your question, that's exactly what the video covers. With a nice animation and everything. And really, I expect Facebook to post some useful numbers rather than forcing us to do the research.

As others pointed out I'm not the author of this wonderful video.

My understanding was that identifying fake accounts automatically was a pretty hard problem to solve. That's not making up for the likes being fake, but it does justify why they can't just delete all the fake accounts.

To me, it seems clear that if something's going on, it's not Facebook "conveniently" letting the fakes go. It's more the problem being hard to cope with.

Or somebody present me results that demonstrate how easy it is to identify fakes with low false positives.

Hey everyone -- sorry to hijack the top thread but I’m an ads engineer at Facebook so I feel qualified to respond. I posted this over on reddit too but it's still pending approval.

In the case of this ad — I think we actually delivered on what was asked for. The targeting specs were fairly broad (cat lovers in four countries). Getting 39 people who like cats to like a page with a cute cat picture in 20 minutes sounds pretty reasonable to me. If you want a specific kind of cat lover, you’d probably want to target even more specifically (like people in a zip code near you).

We're continually working on making it easier for advertisers to target the right people. Earlier this year I worked on a piece of UI called "Audience Definition" (in our ad create flow), which helps give advertisers guidance on how to target ads more specifically. If you set your advertising too broadly (or too narrowly) -- you get a warning.

Fake (and low quality) likes are bad for everyone. We don’t want advertisers to get fans that aren’t good for their business -- we want to help them drive real results, and we can’t do that with bad likes. We invest a lot in improving the systems to monitor and remove fake likes from the system, and also in helping advertisers set smart targeting to help them reach the people they care most about.

And to be honest, a lot of people like cats, and the picture on the page is pretty adorable. Lots of real people like lots of things. And LOTS of people like cats. :P -Peter

Peter, Derek did not get 39 people who like cats. He got 39 Likes from fake accounts. There is no option in the Facebook Ad UI to "exclude fake accounts." Don't blame him for broad targeting when the result is fake accounts.

> Fake (and low quality) likes are bad for everyone.

But they're endemic to the advertising product you sell. "It sucks for us, too!" is no comfort.

> He got 39 Likes from fake accounts.

>> Fake (and low quality) likes are bad for everyone.

> But they're endemic to the advertising product you sell. "It sucks for us, too!" is no comfort.

Not only is it endemic, it is well-known at Facebook. Thousands upon thousands of Facebook employees at all levels have known this deception has been taking place. We are not talking about a few days, weeks or months....

This multi-billion dollar company is knowingly generating revenue via this nonsense. It's not a mistake. This has nothing to do with cat lovers reflexively clicking like.

This was made clear in the video.

My company spends about 100x more money with Google on ads than we do on Facebook ads. Why? Because every time I test advertising on Facebook (outside of retargeting), 90%+ of the engagement looks like garbage. I buy likes, I get likes from people that are clearly not target customers. I boost posts, it makes no sense who seems them and who comments. I could never figure out why people that are clearly not target customers would ever "like" my ad or engage with me. Beyond that, we get no conversions/ROI. It makes no sense; ergo I cannot trust the FB ad platform.

Defend the "reasonableness" of your ad platform all you want, but realize that your brand is completely tarnished and it will take serious changes before you ever see much of my money.

That said, I am not hating. I wish Facebook ads didn't suck, as I'd gladly pay you as much as I pay Google if I got similar ROI.

That is correct. Facebook campaigns don't work for actual conversions. But it is in large part due to the casual way most users navigate the website; which is not going to change. Fake accounts or not you will get a large amount of users that have no relation to your product 'liking' it. This is not necessarily bad. I am not sure if this still applies to USA because of the people that have been leaving Facebook lately. But in my country (Mexico), Facebook is used to give 'presence'. We don't expect any actual ROI or new customers directly from Facebook campaigns, but a user looking at a high number of likes does make a difference in trust perception.

That said, this problem is not present in Google because of the way they present the ads and the way users are navigating when they find them. I believe for this reason Google will always have a great advantage over Facebook and although we won't stop spending a small amount of money to keep a higher amount of likes in Facebook it won't be near as much as we do for Google.

For the same reason, that Facebook's reaction to ads is based in the way users navigate the website, I don't think Facebook will never get a ROI similar to Google.

This is not a Facebook problem. It's a problem with how YOU are running Facebook ads.

This IS a Facebook problem. Whether they are not doing their job properly or customers have problems understanding their platform. But whatever it is, it still affects FB directly, so of course it's their problem.

No, it's not. This is as much of a Facebook problem as it is Google's problem that people send SPAM to people on the internet. This guy doesn't know how to market. People think that advertising is a magic button that you push and you get results. Hilarious.

And let me guess... you get great results with your Facebook campaigns? My marketing teams have spent a lot of time with a variety of advertising campaigns. The Facebook has always been by far the worst, an order of magnitude worse than everything else we tried even though it's supposed to have greater targeting ability. Snarky comments on HN aren't going to make me believe that Facebook advertising is anything but overpriced and overhyped. Please present your evidence instead of assuming everyone is an idiot.

Yeah, a facebook employee complaining that he didn't use enough money to promote the fake pages. Also complaining that he is using facebook wrong and should know better. I was expecting facebook to know better than to leave old tools that does not work lying around just because they make good money out of them? No wait, I wasn't.

I'm not here to make you believe anything. Do what's working for you. If Facebook ads are not working for you, stop using them, or seek the help of someone more qualified than you and your team.

> I'm not here to make you believe anything.

Then what are you here to do? Just write unsubstantiated snarky comments about how much of an idiot everyone but you is?

Just expressing my frustration about this whole thing.

But SPAM is Google's problem and they are devoting a lot of resources to stopping it. Not to say it is exclusively Google's problem or Google's only/biggest problem.

> I’m an ads engineer at Facebook so I feel qualified to respond.

You'll be qualified to respond when you've actually watched the video so you won't have to write uninformed drivel like the following:

> In the case of this ad — I think we actually delivered on what was asked for. The targeting specs were fairly broad (cat lovers in four countries). Getting 39 people who like cats to like a page with a cute cat picture in 20 minutes sounds pretty reasonable to me.

Because that is exactly what did not happen in the video.

> Fake (and low quality) likes are bad for everyone.

Nobody was talking about "low quality" likes, the topic under discussion is fake ones, from fake accounts by fake people.

> We don’t want advertisers to get fans that aren’t good for their business -- we want to help them drive real results, and we can’t do that with bad likes. We invest a lot in improving the systems to monitor and remove fake likes from the system, and also in helping advertisers set smart targeting to help them reach the people they care most about.

Blablabla, said every advertiser, ever.

> And to be honest, a lot of people like cats, and the picture on the page is pretty adorable. Lots of real people like lots of things. And LOTS of people like cats.

Once again, did you not watch the video, or are you in fact arguing that those 39 people are actually real people and not fake accounts?

xxbondsxx is also a fake, just of a different variety. Convincing perhaps at first glance, if you only read the first sentence of his post and moved on, but lacking any apparent understanding of the issue at hand and moreover, I suspect, full autonomy. A marketing drone.

I've got to admit, I wasn't going to comment about it but I did wonder what serious engineer would register a name of xxsomethingxx, and then use it to speak in official capacity :)

I do not think you addressed the actual point of the video: the clicks on his cat page came from click farms. They were not real people.

It's not like that would be the first "non-denial denial" Facebook has ever issued...

Sounds more to me as if, despite skirting the issue, this guy works there, is constantly trying to make Facebook a better ad serving platform, and him and his team are doing the best they can to achieve that, one fix or improvement at a time.

It's obviously not a company wide statement on the issue. It's one engineer saying "Hey, I work there. This is what I'm doing and this is what we're doing. And this is what happened when X did Y which is what he wanted."

I can't imagine that solving the entirety of this issue could ever be simple.

It sounds like something that would need to be fixed from a policy level. Better targeting won't help if the top brass avoids any approach that eliminates the fake accounts.

Not necessarily all of the fake likes are always from fake accounts. I have witnessed some of my facebook friends 'liking' a big number of pages without their consent, automatically. Most probably as a result of phishing they became a part of some big click farms.

I spent $46k on Facebook ads last year, with very healthy ROI.

First, I want to say THANK YOU for the many improvements to the ad system that have recently taken place.

Second, I want to say that you have a LOT of work left to do. Facebook marketing is hard. Too hard.

I have many suggestions, but here's one of them:

Allow the same targeting options when posting directly to the page, as when posting an ad.

For example, I can create a custom audience, and send an ad only to them.

I want to be able to target (or exclude) that custom audience when I post to my Facebook page. If I could do that it would make a huge difference.

Thank you for your time / consideration.

Jacob, that makes perfect sense. Yes, I suspect people are getting good ROI that know how to navigate the fakes. But the reality is that facebook could easily create "don't allow likes from someone with more than 5+ likes in their account" rule. Why not? You're probably not getting any mind share from them anyways.

I really like that:

"don't allow likes from someone with more than 5+ likes in their account""

The # of likes by the user is a good proxy for how diluted the quality of the "like" is.

Probability_to_show_ad = constant * num_other_likes

That said, as long as Facebook has a counter-incentive to cleaning it up, we shouldn't expect this change. We need advertisers to revolt in large #'s before the financial incentives make this a priority for FB.

This is actually a great idea for Facebook - don't sell Likes in absolute numbers, sell them normalized to the fraction of total Likes for the users Liking you.

So I could buy 10 "Fractional Likes" and get 20 users who each only have 2 total Likes (including this one) = 20 * 1/2 = 10

OR I get 10,000 users who each have 1,000 Likes each = 10K * 1/1000 = 10

...which seems a reasonable ballpark for resolving it in an automatable, economic way.

"Don't allow Likes over X" kind of sucks since what happens to legitimate Likers? I'm not a clickfarmer, but I've Liked way more than 5 things.

My News Feed has turned to crap (probably because of it), but that's a whole 'nother story.

Making it an option is not very intuitive. If those likes are useless, just stop them from liking or hellban them by never having their likes show up or cost anything.

Either solution would require Facebook to admit that there are tons of fake likes though. The assumption being that admitting this will have a negative impact on revenue.

Also, either solution would probably result in a lot of new click far accounts being created with the new goal of keeping likes to a minimum. It'll be a constant battle I'm sure.

I do analytics for a major brand you have definitely heard of.

We spend way more than $46K/year.

I agree with Jacob here. If you are willing to work at it, facebook can give you a very healthy ROI. It is not nearly as easy as with Google though.

- Buying likes is basically a waste of time unless your goal is to stroke someones ego or are trying to generate some sort of "social proof"

- Re-targetting via Custom Audiences is awesome (you need a robust CRM program to take advantage of this, or at least an email list).

- Lookalike audiences are promising, but you have to work at them.

Edit: paragraphs

I work in the field and have seen companies who spend several million a month, agree with your key points.

For companies of that size, data is everything, if an ad is underperforming it stops running, if an ad is bringing you low quality clicks (for example, like farms) it will stop running too.

It's really silly to look at someone saying they dumped $20k in FB ads and it didn't pan out without providing any kind of data at all, how many creatives/targeting permutations did they try? did they monitor their ads at all? did they try to negatively target those bad likes they were getting?

I've even seen "custom" lookalike audience implementations, to squeeze that extra cost/performance ratio out of it.

It's great to hear about what works for you.

Last year, we had great success with buying likes -- but for it to work you need to execute very well in terms of regularly publishing highly engaging content to your page. I'd love to compare notes some time. Send me an email if you are interested. (Google my name.)

I would challenge the correctness of this post.

Any questions? Go ahead.

I have limited experience with Facebook, but this sounds like a "fine print" to me. You assume that it is customer's responsibility to learn FB advertising model down to smallest details and navigate carefully around technicalities in order not to drain resources to click farms. While legal, such practices are dubious. It is FB responsibility to filter out garbage and provide clean service to paying customers.

I don't understand your comment. He complains that it is too hard. Isn't that also your point?

>We don’t want advertisers to get fans that aren’t good for their business -- we want to help them drive real results, and we can’t do that with bad likes. We invest a lot in improving the systems to monitor and remove fake likes from the system, and also in helping advertisers set smart targeting to help them reach the people they care most about.

Has no one ever suggested being able to add targeting filters to target users with a total number of likes between x and y? It may seem counter intuitive, however it would allow people to stop targeting users who don't like anything and avoid those who like everything (and therefore can't possibly engage with all their likes).

To me this seems like the obvious solution (with a bit of tweaking to the upper bound), however as the video states this could be negative for Facebook to implement due to the (denied) benefit of fake likes to them. With this implemented however, it could possibly force the click farms to be maintaining simultaneous accounts to keep their total likes down?

Looking at my own Facebook account, I have 46 likes, so surely a company wishing to advertise, would want to advertise with; if they targeted adverts to users with above 2 likes and below ~500 whom are also within they're usual specific filters and regions they are more likely to reach their desired audience of active users. Yes it's quite possible they would miss a tiny percentage of outliers with thousands of likes or new accounts with 0 likes, but that's simply a cost of doing business efficiently.

There's a brave (and perhaps naive) engineer. I think you'll find this audience a bit skeptical, but there's a bigger issue. If people are paying FB for relationships with people that want to be engaged with a product, they will quit paying as soon as the ROI is proven to be negative. And I think you'll only get one chance! If you honestly think the guy with the $20k ad spend is going to "try again just to make sure", then I think I'll go short some FB stock before it takes it's final dive.

This isn't a problem you face alone ... and I think it's telling that Google has had to put more ads on each page to grow revenue. In their case, the ads are targeted to the user AND often are related to a product search. I think FB has a bigger problem because people didn't go there to search for a product but rather to engage their network.

Good luck

You sound like somebody who hasn't done that much search engine marketing. You can lose $20k on google in the blink of an eye and have nothing to show for it but clicks and exit-pages. Some of this may truly be Facebook's problem, I don't know, I personally doubt it. But no, if one negative-ROI campaign led people to abandon Google, they'd have no advertisers left, either. So I think your premise is flawed.

FYI, as the $20k guy, the money wasn't spent all at once. We fiddled, we tried, we failed, several times, miserably. We've made mistakes on Google as well, but success was more easily achieved.

So, despite being certain that our target audience is on FB, we have concluded that we're better off advertising in a place where the intent to purchase a hotel room/travel is clearly present (ie google search).

It's a specific situation, certainly not true for all advertisers. I'm sure that FB advertising for other products might work quite well. It's just not for us.

> If you honestly think the guy with the $20k ad spend is going to "try again just to make sure", then I think I'll go short some FB stock before it takes it's final dive.

That person has already replied with more info on his case, but you should also note that for some people $20k is big enough to never risk that mistake again, while for others it really isn't. I spend around that much each month on Facebook and that's a "well we'll put a little into FB" amount in the scheme of things. Sure, I've had other clients for whom a badly spent $1k was a problem, too. My point is to not jump to assumptions that an adspend is big because it sounds big to you.

(He'll, just this morning I sent a mail to a video website saying that a $15k spend delivered shit results and that we should try again.)

You just completely ignored the point he was trying to make with the fake likes. You're going to have to come up with a better bullshit defense.

He didn't completely ignore the claims. As he mentioned, the targeting specs may have been too broad.

It's easy argue against the value of something so easily faked as a like, but we shouldn't forget that Facebook is also a large platform for promotional advertising, where "like-gated" promotions are designed primarily to collect users' email addresses.

I'm not convinced they were a FB employee, as I'd expect better spin. And commentary. Especially given the target audience of this site.

Watching the video, I don't think that the takeaway was that the advertising was fraudulently performed, but that due to the chaining of likes/engagement/content display, that fake profiles/click farms can have a negative impact on longer-term relationships with people who consume an advertisers content.

I mean, if you look at the page he was trying to drive traffic to, it seems as though 20 minutes would actually be problematic. He was attempting to stretch out the time it took, and failed. If I put up an ad with the basic premise of:"like this page, and it'll download malware" and got likes, the likes would be EXTREMELY suspect, which is what it appeared he was trying to do. I think that non-genuine eyeballs are a large problem for any CPM advertising company, but as this seems tied to how content is distributed after the fact, the problem may be exacerbated.

It's not just paid likes that people are worrying about--it's organic likes too...which brings me to my question. What is your response to the other problem the OP references: spammers liking thousands of unrelated pages to confuse your algorithms, which in turn diminishes audience reach across the entire network?

I guess I just don't understand why the responsibility is on the advertiser to "target the right people." And really, that's not the problem here. If I had a Page that I wanted to target in Bangladesh, how exactly could I go about doing that without having the majority of my likes be fake?

> If I had a Page that I wanted to target in Bangladesh, how exactly could I go about doing that without having the majority of my likes be fake?

Well obviously this means you can't use targeted advertising on people in Bangladesh.

Hm. We should roll out click farms everywhere.

Facebook somehow allows a website to determine whether the user likes a page or not. I've seen websites asking users to click Like (basically liking a page that paid the money to the click farm) in order the view the content. This kind of Like bait is extremely popular, and Facebook basically allow content publishers to trick users in this manner easily.

The most interesting assertion in this video is that the facebook algorithm sends out user updates to a sample of their fans/subscribers and that the engagement performance within that sample is a key determining factor as to whether an update is shared more broadly in news feeds.

If that is in fact the case and purchasing facebook ads indirectly increases the amount of fake/automated likes included within that sample (thereby negatively impacting the overall engagement metrics on your posts) then the purchase of facebook advertising has the side effect of diminishing your ability to organically drive traffic and engagement.

To put it another way. This would be like if buying Google Adwords advertising not only got you fake/automated traffic, but also simultaneously decreased your organic, unpaid search rankings.

Just curious, what "flavor" is Facebook blue (#3B5998) kool-aid? I always imagined it to be like a Blue Razz Blow Pop.

Thank you for chiming in. Facebook should add a new filter limiting the audience to users who have fewer likes. So for example he could advertise to folks who are interested in cats but have fewer than 5 overall likes. Likes from more discerning users are certainly more valuable than likes from generous likers. How about another filter limiting the audience to users who have posted X number of entries to their timeline or the number of years they've been on Facebook?

Peter, I think you need to watch the Video again. Watch around 6:40 where he goes through the likes his cat fans like - such as mouthwash amongst dozens of other conflicting pages. Also watch the part where Facebook can't admit to this because they'd have to give back all that ad revenue.

Characteristics of the Monied "Like" Button http://culturalengineer.blogspot.com/2013/12/characteristics...

One-Click Micropayment Capability for Volume Solicitations and Multiple Providers http://culturalengineer.blogspot.com/2013/12/one-click-micro...

Represented by Perkins Coie

And what about the 83,000 fake likes that his Science related page has? Can you explain that too?

blah blah blah

Oh lord, "ads engineer".

I weep for humanity.

Humanity has had ad engineers as long as we've had civilization. There was even actual physical engineering going into the intricate stencils used to carve the names of kings promoting themselves into temples and other buildings in ancient Babylon -- over 4000 years ago.

I sincerely hope names like this become widespread if they accurately describe the job. Very helpful to have a bright red "KEEP OUT" sign.

I'm a soon-to-be graduated student and am job hunting, so identifying dead ends is presently very relevant to my life. What about a title like this smells fishy to you? I'm not being pedantic, I really want to know how to avoid crappy jobs.

I work in natural language processing now, but I was working on ads for the last couple of years (right out of college).

There is nothing inherent to ads that makes it universally something to avoid. Different people have different priorities for their ideal engineering job (num of users reached, power within the team, liking the product, liking the actual technical work, etc). I know people who loved working in ads: some of them didn't care a ton about the product they worked on, but loved the challenge of their technical work, and some who truly found the world of ads itself to be interesting. This set of priorities isn't necessarily something you'll realize immediately out of school; I was happy for a while with the technical challenge of the work I was doing in ads, but after a while I realized that my personal preference prioritized the actual product I was shipping higher than I thought, so I switched to something I was more excited about.

Don't listen to anyone stupid enough to tell you that there's any universal rule about jobs in ads being crappy (much less a "dead end"; I couldn't be happier where I am at this point and spending a couple of years working in the area of ads didn't hurt me at all). Keep in mind what your priorities are for your job (they're different for everyone) and do research on what a given role would entail (something that even good CS programs don't really prepare you for: I had to discover my aversion to front-end work the hard way).

> Don't listen to anyone stupid enough to tell you that there's any universal rule about jobs in ads being crappy (much less a "dead end";

Also, be aware that this can change in a few years. Some people consider working for Monsanto a "dead end", because not many other companies would want to hire a person like that afterwards.

>Some people consider working for Monsanto a "dead end", because not many other companies would want to hire a person like that afterwards.

Is this even true? I know it's the kind of thing that's hard to explicitly source, but I have a hard time believing that many companies (let alone most) would blacklist someone for working for Monsanto. I feel like the actual reason to avoid Monsanto would be if it's incompatible with your personal morality, not for some imagined fear of widespread reprisal.

I can't say from direct personal experience, but I had a friend reject a Monsanto job offer, explaining that such a first job could become a negative influence on the rest of her career. I'm not in her field, so I don't know what different kinds of employers think.

Hm ok, I was thrown off by the fact that it sounded like you were saying "not many [desirable] companies would hire you after Monsanto". I honestly think your friend might have just been overreacting. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't work at Monsanto either, but I wouldn't have any illusions about it being a 100% personal decision as opposed to something that would affect my career negatively. My assumption is that most organizations aren't childish enough to turn away employees just because of negative views of their past employers; people take jobs for LOTS of reasons, not simple optimization in one direction (how "good" the company is).

For a facile example, I have a friend who got into environmental law and was very aware that she could either make peanuts defending the environment (at a non-profit) or make bank helping companies destroy it (she has chosen the former so far). If she suddenly had to deal with huge medical costs for a sick kid or something? One would have to be a complete asshole to judge her sight unseen for having a certain company on her resume.

The job might not be that bad. It just depends on what you find intellectually stimulating. The actual algorithm for selecting ads probably won't be what you get to work on. Ad engineer jobs are quite frequently focused on making tooling for the buyers to slice and dice data in lots of different ways to analyze the results of a campaign.

By all means, if it's a good company I would highly suggest taking the job. A job at Facebook or Google for a year working as an ad engineer is still going to be a much better experience than most 'enterprise java' positions at a non-tech company.

I have graduated a long time ago, here is my piece of advice. Do not steer away from the jobs just because someone says so. Try them all. You are young, don't get stuck in one place/industry. This will give you a strong advantage later on.

I don't work in ad engineering, but I do work in marketing/advertising analytics for a major brand.

I get contacted by recruiters every week, so I find any talk about a shortage of jobs in this field to be laughable.

Identifying which ad to show to which user is basically mind reading. I can think of few things which are more intellectually stimulating.

Good questions raised about the UX issues that contribute to fraudulent clicks and installs but I take issue with the generalization that only bottom of the funnel, high purchase intent ads are valuable.

Startups generally have a bias towards doing things that they can measure accurately. This leads to heavy reliance on highly attributable channels like AdWords since you can target people who have expressed high purchase intent. What most companies don't do is look closely at multi-channel attribution models and look at how multiple exposures across different media types change purchase behavior. Perhaps someone who is exposed to two display ad driven messages prior to seeing your Google ad is 2x more likely to click and 4x more likely to purchase vs. just being exposed to your Google ad alone. I'm not saying that's what you will see, but you should be curious to understand those effects.

We tend to generalize based on our own experiences. I also don't think Facebook ads work well in many cases but I also can see brands that are doing a great job or run innovative campaigns that get their message across effectively so I know Facebook works if you get it right. Similarly, many folks give banner ads, mobile CPA ad networks, or TV a shot and see poor outcomes without knowing whether it was poor creative, bad media planning, loose targeting parameters that contributed to the poor outcomes.

>Startups generally have a bias towards doing things that they can measure accurately.

As far as biases go, preferring to pay for things that have a demonstrable effect is a pretty good one, especially for startups that generally don't have the resources to waste on a large number of failed initiatives. Sure if you have some incite that gives you a better than normal chance of getting a very high ROI on a creative initiative, then go for it, that's what startups are for. But if you don't have any special incite, stick with what has been shown to be effective, and avoid things like Facebook advertising which appear to give low or negative ROI in the typical case.

I agree that investing on these may seem more profitable in the short term. But branding is a long term goal. Even for Startups branding is important, this can be crucial to close the next deals with VCs or acquiring users' hearts.

Digital Ocean is a good example, I've read good and bad stories, mostly good and they had an extensive Youtube and Display Campaigns. When it was finally time for me to close a deal with a VPS to replace my old Dreamhost shared server I didn't have to search. I went straight to Digital Ocean.

This is harder to measure, or even impossible when you add the fact that I was probably impacted at least 50 times by passive or active advertisement for them on at least 4 different devices.

Also keep in mind that I was aware of this the whole time, and I smiled every tie I saw a DO ad, because I knew I was probably gonna sign at some point. But most of the time these type of advertisements happen without you even noticing, even if you are in this business.

Companies spend millions in SuperBowl ads, and nobody can click on that, it's impossible to tell how many coca-cola bottles will be sold by that ad and post discussions that it sparked. But they will do it again next year.

Display advertisement is valuable but it's harder to put a price tag. Even if you don't click on the ad in a mobile app it's still valuable. I'd argue that if you make it annoying or if you try to steal a click it's less valuable.

There is a reason this type of publicity is sold by impressions, because that's where the value is, clicks can or cannot happen, that's just a plus you won't get on TV.

>Companies spend millions in SuperBowl ads, and nobody can click on that,

not that i dream about clicking it, i'm just surprised that they still hasn't implemented it yet as current TVs are really computers sold/packaged as TVs.

True. I should have generalized less. It didn't work for us. Reasons include the product in question (hotel rooms) which in New York are plenty in supply, the price of the product (median stay ~$800), a client with a relatively limited advertising budget (branding exercise unlikely), a defined purchase cycle (typically 2-4 weeks in advance of a trip), and last but not least, something people actually search for (not a "cash register" or "impulse" purchase). In short: I think FB ads may work for companies and products that sell "small stuff" or big brands that go for the eyeballs/brand recognition/awareness.

It's my experience as well that Facebook pages work extremely well for small stuff, also geared towards women - I've seen shoes, bags, jewellry and arts & crafts in particular be extremely succesful, mostly thanks to viral campaigns. Facebook should try to monetize that (and it actually started doing so with promoted posts and such) instead of facebook ads which, as mentioned, are awful.

My own Facebook ad campaign got us zero conversions, as opposed to Google campaigns. BTW the Google campaign on mobiles was as awful as the Facebook campaign.

> Startups generally have a bias towards doing things that they can measure accurately.

My fear is that many of them don't understand a thing or two about statistics, so all that precise measurements are means for them to lie to themselves.

google display network advertising is equally useless/fraudulent

It is very good at giving me pictures of the more expensive things that I have recently bought, should I suddenly need two.

It's kind of funny because Google really only controls the network of sites their ad spaces are on, the content of the ad you get is controlled by the advertiser or 3rd party ad tech provider.

The retargeting ads you speak of (Criteo runs a lot of them) is generated automatically via these 3rd party ad platforms cookie combined with an API into the advertiser's store feed (product photo, description, price, etc.) They get a stream of SKUs that you've looked at and try to get you to pull the trigger.

There's nothing to prevent the store from also associating items you've already bought so you don't get shown something that's irrelevant. My best guess is that it's just easier to not do that.

Ha...I think about this all the time. I start researching something, eventually buy it. Then a ton of targeted ads show up everywhere advertising to me the product I already purchased.

I think the difference is that Google really tries to kill the click farms as apposed to the social media companies.

I meant it in the sense of "loads of impressions", very few clicks, lots of clicks from countries listed in the video, unless specifically excluded.

I'm the developer of Reddit In Pictures and I'm sorry about that issue, please go into 'Settings' and disable ads!

I just wanted to give as much space for images as possible, so when the ad loads it puts itself between the text showing the number of images and the ActionBar, if the ad doesn't load it doesn't take up any space. Is the bounce you're talking about when the ad initially loads (like on orientation change)?

I haven't had a chance to work on that app in a while, but when I have time to re-visit it I will test out making the ad area static so that it never seems to bounce.

I'd be a bit careful with that. Someone on /r/AndroidDev had his app removed from the store because Google thought it could get accidental ad clicks. He didn't have a space for the ads and the ad would just appear on top of the bottom content.

Not sure if they are cracking down on it or not but thought you'd like a heads up. Popping up onto an area not meant to be touched in the first place is probably fine though.

Thanks for the heads up, I will have to try out some other layouts for the ads.

Right now the ad shows above the bottom split action bar, and you can pinch to zoom on the images. http://imgur.com/DfecJar

If an ad isn't showing the image will fill up the rest of the space to the action bar.

I didn't expect many people to keep ads enabled, I released it as RateWare, asking that users rate the app if they choose to disable ads.

Hi Entropic, I did not mean to mark your app as the prime example, it's just one I use a lot (thanks!) and one where I've noticed hitting the advert unintentionally. There are many many many apps with this issue.

My point was that many mobile ad clicks are mistakes and thus useless. Didn't mean to cause you any trouble (and I wasn't aware of the turn off ads option, so double-thanks)

Another great example of the kind of mobile advertising you're talking about: Flappy Bird, where ads are shown every time you re-start the game. In a typical Flappy Bird session, that could be up to 5-6 ads per minute — only shown on screen for a second or two.

The major disconnect between Google ads, Facebook ads, and likes is that Facebook likes don't mean anything. Very rarely are people begging to engage with your company — in that case, they'd already be engaged. When you ask google "cheapest flights to SF" it will serve your ads to an eager audience on a silver platter; Whereas many Facebook users will like anything moderately interesting or cool, and the ads show up between "Girl from high school had a baby" and beach photos.

It's apples and oranges. Imgur/9GAG aren't advertising on Google, just as travel agencies won't see much ROI on Facebook.

Two questions: (1) What are practical, specific ways that Facebook could fix this problem? There's clearly a problem. (2) Also, how should digital advertising companies that integrate a Facebook share option in their offering avoid supporting shares from fake profiles?

Interestingly, the problem is caused by Facebook trying to fix the problem. The hypothesized reason the clickfarms "like" random pages is to seem real because Facebook will shut them down if they don't seem real. Perhaps Facebook could drop that specific ("has the user liked other pages?") signal from their bot detection and focus on other signals. Whatever they do will likely result in some type of side-effect as clickfarms continue to strive to "seem real".

I replied above (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7222232) but Facebook could basically sell Likes normalized against the users' total Likes. So a Like by someone with 10 Likes is worth 10x vs someone with 100 Likes, etc.

I can't find a thing called google advert. You meant google Adword right?

Advert is British for "ad".

Correct. Sorry if it caused confusion. I used it because I find 'ad' a confusingly short word, and advertisement too long. Showing my European roots I guess (but I live in NYC).

Alternative in short: You are only looking to do demand fulfillment.

See how that pans out in the long run (5+ years).

If you haven't yet watched Derek's earlier video about "the problem with facebook", you should: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9ZqXlHl65g

because in it he lays bare several fundamental structural issues about facebook which 99% people don't realize. Well worth the watch.

Unless fb changes drastically, it will die a surprisingly fast death.

This is not good. This won't stand for long. Reminds me of Yahoo advertising based on the buyer's ignorance.


I didn't realize the answer till later, after I went to work at Yahoo. It was neither of my guesses. The reason Yahoo didn't care about a technique that extracted the full value of traffic was that advertisers were already overpaying for it. If they merely extracted the actual value, they'd have made less.

Hard as it is to believe now, the big money then was in banner ads. Advertisers were willing to pay ridiculous amounts for banner ads. So Yahoo's sales force had evolved to exploit this source of revenue. Led by a large and terrifyingly formidable man called Anil Singh, Yahoo's sales guys would fly out to Procter & Gamble and come back with million dollar orders for banner ad impressions.

The prices seemed cheap compared to print, which was what advertisers, for lack of any other reference, compared them to. But they were expensive compared to what they were worth. So these big, dumb companies were a dangerous source of revenue to depend on. But there was another source even more dangerous: other Internet startups.


What I don't understand is why doesn't facebook try to leverage it's data and serve contextual/interest ads on other sites in similar way that google does with adsense? I know I would use it with my startup.

That way, they don't have to conflate the incentives of the different parties involved as much as they are doing now.

Those ads typically perform pretty terribly

Something doesn't make sense here... I gathered from other threads that Google's ads are preferred over facebook's. So either Google doesn't do "contextual/interest based" ads, or contextual/interest based ads do not perform terribly (compared to what facebook is currently doing).

Google's search ads perform very well. They capture people in the moment of intent. Google's 3rd party ads perform badly since they are abstracted much further away from live intent, but Google gets away with it because they are pay per click, which implies lower risk for advertisers.

I don't disagree, but with that logic, maybe facebook could get away with it too. And I didn't suggest it as an either/or thing, just maybe something to reduce the pressure on the current revenue streams. For certain types of sites/products, facebook could give google a run for their money with a competing product.

And Facebook's valuation will disappear equally as fast.

But then again, there were many alternative search engines but not many alternative social networks.

One can be built in months if it has the right model.

The software is a trivial part of building a social network.

as shown by google with g+. Great web app but not that many users

What is the right model?

huh? I do not understand what you are saying, care to explain?

Google had to be good because there was competition in the search space. Facebook doesn't have to be good because they're the only viable social network.

So was myspace at one point. You can certainly argue that fb has way more mindshare than myspace ever did, and be right, but nothing is eternal on the internet.

Even at its height Myspace never had users at the scale facebook has today. Baby boomers never used myspace like they use facebook.

Thanks for sharing that!

Yes thanks for that, I've got a much better understanding now of the roles of the the creator, consumer, advertiser inside Facebook and he makes a good comparison/contrast to YouTube.

The trouble is this is 100% from the content creator's perspective. From the user perspective, this ends up working out quite well.

From a user perspective, I like things because I want to see content. It annoys me to no end that I know I'm missing out on updates from sources I care about because Facebook selectively decides what to show me, and effectively holds my attention hostage.

This is the argument I find confusing...You ask Facebook to curate your news feed and then get upset when they curate it.

Where am I asking Facebook to curate (in this case, read: cull) from posts that I've indicated that I want to see?

I'm asking to see posts from something I've explicitly stated an interest in; I'm not asking them to pick and choose a subset that I get to see beyond that.

Do you believe it's possible for Facebook to improperly curate content?

Can't someone write a browser extension that tracks what you like/have liked, and then builds your own Facebook experience, putting back the content you are missing? Running the entire Facebook data system is daunting, but running my own view of Facebook that I want should be easy to manage in a browser.

>Can't someone write a browser extension that tracks what you like/have liked"

The issue is that most of don't want to click like, like, like on everything we "like", just to see that content.

I don't need to like HN; it's implicit in every visit I make to the site.

Not necessarily. If content from your friends and family and other pages you enjoy is regularly filtered out and replaced with paid "promoted" posts, it decreases the quality of the site.

Yep. Half of my news feed is bullshit stuff that my friends like because they haven't discovered true content aggregators. They use Facebook for the sort of stuff that I use Reddit for and it completely ruins my experience.

I'm there to see what's happening IRL with my friends, not to see pictures of stuff that I saw a few days ago while on the toilet.

For context, I'm a 19 year old student going into my third year at uni, so that puts me right in Facebook's original target demographic. It's disappointing that a service so useful for staying in touch with friends has degraded into little more than an IM service because the rest of it's been spammed to hell.

And from there, you have the fallacy of this argument. This decreases the quality of your experience on Facebook. With the million other options and networks, why on earth would Facebook purposefully lower the quality of their product in order to make a few bucks with ads?

Because they can get away with it in the short term. Millions of dollars is more than a "few bucks" but it's driving the site down hill and possibly contributing to their eventual collapse. In any case you claimed it works out for the users quite well, which it obviously does not.

They would do it to make more than "a few bucks" with ads. Business is full of these tradeoffs, so I don't know wherefrom this presumption of purity from FB to our walls comes from.

because where else do you have a network of "friends" as extensive as the one on facebook?

While I agree with much of what is said in the video, you are able to (at the top of the news feed) change from top stories to most recent to get the posts in order of date instead of filtered.

The OP's video is great and identifies a real problem that should be solved. This particular video is naive and pretty bad in my opinion, really disagree.

I thought this video was spot on as well. Can you explain how/why you really disagree with it's premise? I'm curious to hear your points...

They are from the same person!

When I moved to Silicon Valley in 2006, I had just lived through the events that were eventually twisted into the movie The Social Network. My conclusion having witnessed Mark's behavior firsthand was that he was the least trustworthy individual I had ever met and that he was likely to harm others.

At the risk of sounding like Chicken Little ("the sky is falling!") I wrote a great deal voicing my point of view, including my very first post on Hacker News (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24742), in which I called Mark a fraud. For expressing my grave and sincere concern, I was met with what could only be described as considerable hostility.

Aware that very few wanted to hear what I had to say, I did everything I could to move onto more interesting and useful work. I don't spend my time worrying about Facebook, so I haven't looked into their ad technology in any depth. Nonetheless, everything in the above video strikes me as spot on, which would also mean that I was exactly right. Facebook's entire valuation appears to be based on little more than false advertising and click farming. As the CEO of a publicly-traded corporation with a supposed market capitalization of $162.61 billion, Mark would still appear to be, as I described here (http://www.aarongreenspan.com/writing/essay.html?id=80), the greatest con of all time.

I hope that based on these findings Facebook finds itself the target of civil actions filed by multiple Attorneys-General and the DOJ, but I doubt very much that our justice system would render a fair outcome even then.

Without judging whether he is right or not, I'd just like to point out that IF he is right he would fill the same role as Nassim Nicholas Taleb in the Banking Collapse of 2008 and the role of Harry Markopolis in the Bernie Madoff pyramid scheme.

So there is ample precedence for this being a correct assesment and if you have read anything surrounding the Madoff controversy and the banking collapse, you will know that the NY financial scene is riddled with incompetence and corruption. It is entirely possibility that Facebook is the biggest stock market fraud in history.

Sounds like you're a little bitter.

Zuckerberg isn't a con, he's an entrepreneur and a successful one at that. He even created jobs in third world countries :)

I found a way to dramatically improve facebook. Around the beginning of the year I unfollowed every single friend and page, so my newsfeed is completely empty. Now when I want to know what my friends are up to, I go check out their pages, essentially going from a push feed to a pull. It gets me out of the empty crack addiction-esque cycle of going to the news feed and being disappointed/bored with the lives of my friends, and instead lets me focus on what facebook is actually valuable for: party planning.

My solution was to delete my Facebook account. Now, I engage with the people I care about via mechanisms that are far more meaningful: emails, phone calls, a coffee, a lunch.

I really wish I could do that. I used to ask a friend to change my password, now I use www.offsocialnetwork.com to do it (I'm doing it this week).

But I can't go really long without facebook since all is planned from there, the parties, the social events, the foreign friends visiting my city, foreign friends keeping in touch with me...

I guess it's easier not to have facebook when you didn't travel a lot and don't have a big social life.

"But I can't go really long without facebook since all is planned from there, the parties, the social events, the foreign friends visiting my city, foreign friends keeping in touch with me..."

I have two questions to respond to this - how did people do all of these things before the facebook platform? What is stopping you from doing these same things?

I find it fascinating that people treat websites like facebook like an actual addiction, and are scared of the withdraw problems in their social life. Is there such a thing as social addiction? Is that a thing?

> I have two questions to respond to this - how did people do all of these things before the facebook platform? What is stopping you from doing these same things?

Some of "these things" did not exist before. Like yesterday a former coworker of mine posted a bunch of pictures of her kids growing up, it was interesting and reminded me how the time flies.

Would I ask around acquaintances for her phone number, then get on the phone and ask her to send me a printed photo album of her children? Yeah, that seems non-creepy at all.

Friend of my spouse checked in at a restaurant that's opened just recently, I saw my wife liking it, and asked about opinion of the food. Would the "before" solution include compiling a list of my + my spouse's friends with their respective phone numbers, then calling everybody inquiring which restaurants they recently visited?

Passive information discovery sucked before.

Jesus H. Christ, watch some old TV shows and movies. How would one see coworkers kid's photos before facebook!?! They'd pull them out of their wallet or purse, an album on the coffee table. It was a cliche and staple of sitcoms to be annoyed by the endless stream of kid photos from a wallet.

How about ex-coworker?

This is a bit disingenuous to say these kind of reflection were not possible before. What happened in the old days was that your social life was much more localized : your street, your neighborhood, your village, your parish, etc. So rather that looking at pictures, you would be on your porch and you would be looking at your friend's kids playing in the street , wondering how all these years had gone so fast. Social platform allow to extend your social network beyond some (arbitrary) geographical limitations, but it does not really add anything to the human experience that was not there before, so to speak. I know that I am stating the obvious, but I think "some of these things did not exit before" was a bit too strong.

Yeah, communication and conversation was very location-dependent.

> I have two questions to respond to this - how did people do all of these things before the facebook platform? What is stopping you from doing these same things?

1) They used other services (e.g. Evite) which had the same effect 2) Nobody uses those other services anymore (okay, I got one evite from the one friend who refused to use facebook...and then somebody created the event page on facebook and all the party planning promptly got hijacked and moved there)

So your choices are to use Facebook and get invited to parties, or be like that guy from ten years ago who refused to get an email address and was butthurt that nobody would pick up the phone to personally invite him to the party.

Huh, I'm from the few who never even created a Facebook account.

Whenever something is up, everyone knows I won't get the memo, and they give me a mail/text/call. Usually more than one person.

And you can't compare that to email vs phone. Phone is costly, time consuming, single threaded. Sending a message on Facebook or an email doesn't make any difference.

I feel like that is a false choice. The only options are to either not do anything and be 'butthurt' or use facebook?

What about relationships with people? What about carrier pigeons? What about personal servants?

All of those things are able to do what you're complaining about, they just take slightly more effort.

I guess it's to each his own - is your support of a terrible, invasive company more important than your convenience? That's up to you.

Eh, Facebook isn't that terrible. I'm not saying I think they're good, but they make what is currently the modern equivalent of the telephone. It is what it is.

And it's not about my convenience, it's about not inconveniencing my friends by demanding that they remember that I'm a special snowflake who won't use the dominant communication platform of the day, and I must have my special needs attended to by using older, more inconvenient channels each time they want to send out a mass party invite.

That is a terrible analogy. The modern telephone is the computer, and Facebook, if being forced to stick with the telephone analogy, is some kind of phone book / telemarketer / wiretap agency hybrid.

The fact that computers are too inconvenient to use for communication without using locked centralized platforms and proprietary software is a testament to the failure of computers as a communication tool, rather than a good argument for the necessity of Facebook, which actually is terrible and worth resisting.

> The fact that computers are too inconvenient to use for communication without using locked centralized platforms and proprietary software is a testament to the failure of computers as a communication tool

Or maybe social communication platforms are a natural monopoly and the computers are working just fine.

Please describe this theory for me. I have always had a hard time understanding the concept of 'natural monopoly' when most of nature and the human experience demands diversification.

Facebook is simply, hands down, the easiest service on which to do these things today. It's only an addiction in the same sense that using a cellphone is an addiction. You could just as easily use a landline, or schedule meetings with friends and co-workers a day in advance, by writing them a letter, talking to them in person or getting in touch with them through common friends. Less convenient, sure, but equally functional.

To me, avoiding Facebook in the absence of any negatives (you are free to log on only whenever you want to) seems like some strange puritanical or old-fashioned ritual. Why avoid something that works?

>I have two questions to respond to this - how did people do all of these things before the facebook platform? What is stopping you from doing these same things?

Simple. It was just harder so it did't happen nearly as often. If someone is complaining about an airline, you don't respond with, "How did people get from LA to NYC before airlines? What is stopping you from doing it that way?"

People vastly underestimate the value of the network effects on Facebook.

It's actually very easy to have a booming social life and travel tons without Facebook.

if you want to share your secrets I'm all ears.

For example, last year I got to meet maybe 30 friends from all over the world because they were passing through France or wanted to go travel to the country I was traveling to. I wouldn't have met them if they didn't have my facebook as I rarely keep touch with people far from me (before facebook). My mail is filled with spam and I change my number every year.

I also moved to a new city, didn't know anyone, joined the erasmus group and a few weeks after I knew 100+ people, was getting invited to parties every day, was meeting new people every day.

You can always try to avoid facebook, it will be more difficult though.

You change your number every year? Why? If it's a privacy issue surely it's more important to change your facebook account every year.

I move a lot, China, Canada, France these last years. I don't want to keep paying to keep my number, and I don't really care about changing my number, if people want to contact me they can always find me on facebook (I have everyone there), and the few that don't use a facebook, well I don't really keep in touch with them but I don't have time to track everybody.

You are a freaking WUSSY! And you have NO life,let alone social life. Social life is OUTSIDE, face to face, NOT on facebook. Get a fucking life, freaking zombie.

If deleting your Facebook would not have a negative affect on your real life social life, you are not using it the way most people do.

Almost every organised event that I go to starts with a Facebook invite, or someone sharing the event on their feed. It's also a massive time waster, but until another event service gains actual adoption (a service such as this is useless without users, right?), I'll keep using Facebook.

If your life relies on Facebook, then you have to social life and no friends ad all, you just have an illusion. If no one would call you for an event,what does this say about you?

It really only says that my friends are lazy. You could equally say the same thing with a mobile phone - if your friend would not send a paper invite, what does that say about you?

Projecting much?

I did the same and now I'm able to focus and spend time on real friendships that matter vs. clicking through a facebook feed of what facebook decides to show me.

I don't have any reason to delete it. I get messages every so often from friends that are in town, and it makes it easier to host and plan a gathering. It also makes sharing photos among friends easy.

I waste way more time on social media sites like this one than I ever have on Facebook.

I honestly think Facebook was better when it was just a directory of profiles, then it decided to completely change the nature of the service by focusing entirely on the newsfeed. It sure made sense in terms of users engagement, but the value I get from it has declined steeply over the last few years. Now I only use the messenger app.

The "profile" meant something back when Facebook first started - in fact one of my favorite things was when the news feed would announce things like "Friend1 updated his favorite movies" - then I would click and go see what they added.

I can't even guess when the last time was that I looked at someone's information directly on their profile on FB

I have completely hidden my news feed. Since I consider FB only to be valuable as a utility, i.e. a means of communication or a repository of information such as where someone lives, the newsfeed is a complete waste of time and useless.

My solution is to use custom CSS to hide the newsfeed, but keep everything else. As a result, I spent 1/10th the time on Facebook, and only use it when I need to get information from it.


I did something similar on Youtube, I've hidden all the side videos to help me focus on the video I was watching. But on FB, I unfollowed 99% of the people, and only left things like 'March Against Monsanto', and 'Naturalnews', so so my feed only contains stuff that matters to me.

How long did it take you to unfollow everyone on FB? Sounds like that would take a while for someone with 1800 friends.

~150 friends only, I unfollowed only when a post appeared. And I marked lots of people as acquaintances. Why do you have 1800 friends? Dang.

Yeah and someone with 1800 friends probably wouldn't have the time at hand anyway

I really like this idea. I think I'll give it a go. Thanks for sharing it!

You're welcome! Let me know how it works for you in the Medium comments.

Thanks, this is great!

In my case, the majority of my friends only share with friends. So unfriending them all would result in mostly empty timelines for me.

You can unfollow without unfriend.

My friend had a solution to keep maximally 100 people on his account. One day, I received a message that I had to go. OK. A few months he asked me for friendship again :)

> Now when I want to know what my friends are up to, I go check out their pages, essentially going from a push feed to a pull.

I think you just invented MySpace.

Hmm, Facebook seems to randomly refollow people on my behalf when I try this. Perhaps it's latency or something?

Sounds like you're still addicted, just using a different way.

Exactly, event planning/tracking is the only reason I stay on.

Yeah i did the Facebook 300 Diet #FB300D 2 years ago and it was amazing. Basically, I unfriended all but 300 people and my feed got much better. I even created a word document that details who you should unfriend.

Smart. Pull is future. We don't want to be pushed.

That's exactly how Orkut worked.

Be sure to watch through to the end for the conclusion! I'll summarise:

Click farms like every page they can, far more than just the pages they were paid to like; the theory is that they will evade detection this way. Paying for "legitimate" facebook exposure will expose you to the click farms as well, and that will be the absolute majority of your gained likes. In this way facebook ads give a huge, but useless, gain in "Likes".

Actually there is a fundamental reason why you're exposed to click farms: because fb exposes your ad to a small sample size of your audience first. Then based on the engagement the ad receives, it will target it more to those 'types' of people.

Since click farms are far far more engaged than the average fb user, this means that invariably, your ad will be steered actively by fb towards click farms!

So if you pay for fb ads you are in effect wasting your money because fb is forcing your ad to be shown to those who shouldn't see your ads.

And if you don't pay either for legitimate or fraudulent likes, you will still get a large fake following because they are using you to disguise their activity.

Looks like it's hard to get rid of the click farms and FB is using it for revenue. And it could be worse that most of the Likes are fake.

"Paying for "legitimate" facebook exposure will expose you to the click farms as well, and that will be the absolute majority of your gained likes."

Does that matter? I mean, obviously if you're trying to work out whether it's worth paying for Facebook ads, it's worth being aware that a large number of Likes isn't necessarily a sign of a successful ad, but you don't know the "value" of a Like in advance anyway. If you discover that every 1,000 Likes you get 10 more sales (or whatever), then you can work out whether it's worth spending money for an ad that will likely bring in 1,000 Likes, whether 990 of those likes are "genuine" Likes that don't turn into sales, or 990 of the Likes are click farm Likes.

I mean, I've never advertised on Facebook, I don't know anything about it, but I would have thought you need to measure the actual effectiveness of your ads; whether click farm fake Likes are contributing to this overall effectiveness or not doesn't seem relevant to the end result.

You didn't watch the video. More likes means a larger percentage of your "likers" AREN'T engaged which will actually show content to FEWER of the people who are actually interested. Having 2850/3000 of your likes being farmed means when FB does a "sampling" by only showing content to a few of your likers it has a lower chance of actually hitting a non-farm account.

And frankly, the whole thing is fucking ridiculous to even have to explain. FB does all sorts of shady/hacky shit to make money in a way that is totally incongruous with the needs and desires of both content consumers and content creators. Someone will come along with a simpler model that makes sense, and everyone will move away from facebook like they did from digg->reddit.

I doubt there's any trivial solutions to this, but one simple scenario would be to limit the amount of 'likes' an account can have..but that could also cause FB to implode.

Well, there is one solution which wasn't mentioned in the video, get the bots to like your posts so they get visibility leading to actual users seeing them.

Facebook determines post visibility based on engagement. If a high percentage of your likes are fraudulent and don't engage, that means that the initial group your post is shown to is less likely to engage, and, in turn, your post is less likely to be seen by legitimate followers since the low engagement means Facebook won't expand the percentage of your followers that see it in the first place.

What is to stop click farms from evolving into selling engagement as well as likes?

I'm not sure, beyond effort required. It would at least be slightly less actively harmful to advertisers, though.

it was mentioned in the video, doing this creates a negative effect.

the video mentioned how real/useful engagement didn't change before and after he got all those fake likes

I meant likes on particular posts on the page. Not the page itself.


According to the video, the click farmers will like the page itself, but not any content it posts.

If your page likes are mostly fake, your posts likes will be proportionately lower.

The auther discovered that Facebook tests your posts among your following, and uses the % that liked the post as a signal as to whether it should show it to the rest of your network.

Now, if you are paying farmers for likes, they might also be liking the content you post. If you're not paying for likes at all, but you have a bunch of fake likes on your page, your posts will get proportionately fewer likes, and FB will show your post to fewer people.

The point was ultimately:

By buying likes, legitimately or not, your page will attract likes from fake accounts -- Which due to the aforementioned reasons will tank the presence of your page in the news feed of real users.

The only workaround from this position is to promote your posts either through legitimate or illegitimate means.

The other byproduct of this notion is that using the free coupons that Facebook tends to offer can cause more damage than they are supposedly supposed to fix.

Yep, this is possible and a much better use of ad spend that's allocated for FB. The only downside is the admin required to single out individual posts for paid (fake) promotion.

It's also a much cheaper method than paying FB to promote to your click farm fans.

Well, if he could identify these accounts as illegitimate, surely Facebook could automatically do the same with their vast amount of data. However, they really have no incentive to do so. The average advertiser just wants to see a higher like count, and they're not paying as much attention as they should to actual conversions. If Facebook can serve 5x as many likes, with the help of illegitimate users, and no one is complaining about low conversions, they're not going to stop. Why chase down the click farms, if they're generating 80% of your revenue for free?

As someone who has helped massively grow a handful of businesses with Facebook being a significant channel, part of me wants to say "Yep, FB advertising is bunk. Everyone stop!"

But in reality I'd be saying that in a weak attempt to make my own Facebook advertising more effective.

Lemme tl;dr this in three bullets:

- It's far easier for non-sophisticated advertisers to waste money.

- The ad platform is pretty technical and nuanced

- Notice I didn't mention facebook in the previous two bullets? That's because it's true for anywhere you buy ads, even print or flyers, radio or direct mail.

So to reiterate: For any given paid advertising channel, it is far easier for non-sophisticated people to waste money as it is to see significant ROI. Any place you can buy ads is far more technical and nuanced than people who don't live and breath it could every imagine.

This article (video) is pointing to fundamental flaws in FB's advertising offerings. I don't think that any amount of "social media marketing" expertise will compensate for the fact that a large proportion of the ad spend on those offerings may likely be wasted on what is effectively fraud. Even if you optimize for better performance, there will still be inordinate waste to fraud.

Beyond that, I think a lot of people have been jaded by the multitudes claiming that they can help businesses with social media. If you are stating that there is some fraction of 1% who do actually grasp some deep, esoteric knowledge required to succeed with Facebook campaigns (or with other channels like Google), then OK. But, I would think that to be a massive problem for Facebook, Google, etc. That is, the overwhelming majority of their customers (lacking the required knowledge) would eventually realize that the ROI just isn't there for them.

Perhaps that will yet happen with some of these channels. If so, perhaps FB will be among the first to implode, as there are many who don't find the same abysmal metrics with Google, et. al. as they do on FB. So, even from a relative perspective, it still seems that FB is deeply flawed.

BS - I've watched both videos twice and more sophisticated targeting solves 90% of their "problems."

How much facebook advertising have you managed? I hope it's a lot if you're going to call out "fundamental flaws" and "large portion of ad spend...likely wasted...on what is effectively fraud."

I've managed many millions across a handful of companies. Has their been issues? Yes, just like every other channel.

You're spot on about being jaded though.

Wading through the masses of BS is a huge pain.

75% of the people probably give up, 20% outsourced to varying results, 5% nail it in-house or via finding the right partner.

But that 5%-15% of potential advertisers that lock it down?

That's 80% of the ad spend right there.

One Expedia is worth 100,000 small businesses to Google.

Google, Facebook, et al have all tried to simplify their ad products to capture more potential advertisers at different levels.

But in doing so they arrive at a Catch 22 though...

To make it simpler, they hide sophistication and advanced options. The very options that are needed to drive campaigns with meaningful ROI. But those options are also over the head of the SMBs.

So what are they supposed to do?

Regarding your question about my statement that a "large portion of ad spend is likely wasted on what is effectively fraud."

Not sure what you want me to say here. I don't believe the author's experience is isolated, nor is that of others who have demonstrated/reported the same. Your suggestion that they should use more "sophisticated targeting" to circumvent fraud is odd. Targeting should be for optimization, not fraud avoidance. How about instead FB fixes the fraud problem?

In any case, by your own admission, most people don't possess this sophistication anyway, so it follows that they would likely be significantly affected by this fraud problem. Hence, you haven't refuted my statement, but supported it.

>How much facebook advertising have you managed? I hope it's a lot if you're going to call out "fundamental flaws"

Really? OK. Well, personally, I have only my own company's test cases. But, I can read and I don't think it's a coincidence that my experience corroborates that of many others. I'm actually also paraphrasing you (in part) when I say it's fundamentally flawed. I think it's a pretty big problem if only you and your cousin Bob, along with two other people who live on a mountain somewhere possess the esoteric knowledge required to create a successful campaign.

And, now you've explicitly stated some of the flaw, with this: "To make it simpler, they hide sophistication and advanced options. The very options that are needed to drive campaigns with meaningful ROI. But those options are also over the head of the SMBs"

You don't see a very serious problem there?

In general, what you're saying throughout your post just doesn't make a lot of sense to me. You gloss over fraud and lay out all of these problems with FB advertising, then you conclude that it's not fundamentally flawed. Instead, the problem is with the huge percentage of people who simply don't know how to use it. For what other product would this premise lead to this conclusion?

I wasn't going to comment on this story, as I'm clearly biased. I used to work for an early facebook marketing partner, and I am very familiar with their advertising.

This video is sensationalist, a large portion of all internet advertising is click fraud, no one is arguing against that; however, that doesn't mean you can't get results from social ads if you have the right expertise.

I don't know what kind of budgets you have managed, I have personally devised campaigns with millions of dollars in spend for brands, and they worked out very well. Of course, the targeting we did was very advanced and impossible to do for most people.

And what you are saying doesn't make sense to me. You want to achieve meaningful results when competing with people who are vastly more prepared to you. Why do you feel entitled to making facebook work?

The truth is you (and majority of the people who posted here) have spent negligeble amounts of money testing and have read very little on the subject and even less time on putting down a strategy. I have a newsflash for you - marketing is hard and you are not entitled to results, just because you throw $50 on facebook ads.

>I have a newsflash for you - marketing is hard and you are not entitled to results, just because you throw $50 on facebook ads.

Interesting that you know how much time and money I've put into it.

It's also, interesting that you know what other means of advertising I've employed and am using for COMPARATIVE purposes.

Marketing is hard? No kidding. I have been marketing online for over 10 years and have driven well over $500M in sales during that time. Now, maybe you've done more than that with your FB ads, but I would say that I'm qualified to speak on my experience.

>You want to achieve meaningful results when competing with people who are vastly more prepared to you.

No. The person to whom I'm responding stated that very few people know how to succeed with FB's product. If FB is marketing a product from which the overwhelming majority of their customers don't get value, then something is wrong with the product. I'd think that simple statement to be obvious but, then, here you are.

>Why do you feel entitled to making facebook work?

Again, you know me so well. I don't feel "entitled", though Facebook certainly wants me to feel that way. Again, if the overwhelming majority of customers find the product ineffective, then there's a problem with the product or Facebook's positioning of it. I call that fundamentally flawed. You can call it a success.

So, you say you went off and built a slide-rule, strapped on a rocket pack, and obtained a PhD in psychology and statistics, and an MBA in marketing. Now, Facebook Ads work for you. Great! So I guess it was me and the other 90-something% of Facebook's ad customers who were wrong after all. We should just do what you did.

Listen, FB sells the product. Funny thing: they don't recommend the MBA, PhD, or even consultants. In fact, they hide important features because they are so unusable for the vast majority of their customers. This is tacitly misleading people into believing that what they see is sufficient for success with their product.

So, FB itself is telling you there's a big problem with their product, and this doesn't even consider the fraud issue in the OP. But, you just carry on defending them.

>So, you say you went off and built a slide-rule, strapped on a rocket pack, and obtained a PhD in psychology and statistics, and an MBA in marketing. Now, Facebook Ads work for you. Great! So I guess it was me and the other 90-something% of Facebook's ad customers who were wrong after all. We should just do what you did.

No, I'm saying that you marketing is a field like every other and should be treated like it. It's like me saying "Oh, C++ is so stupid, I can't do "X" with it, although this book says it's comprehensive. Btw, I'm a mommy blogger".

I will give you the benefit of the doubt on your accomplishments and tell you that if you are good at marketing facebook is a goldmine. Go read whitepapers from success stories. Read Gary Vaynerchuk's stuff. Be super precise with your targeting (like laser precise). Think differently about facebook traffic. Get in the mindset of your customer when he's on fb. You are not looking to fulfill a demand. You are looking to create it, so all your efforts should be completely different from adwords for example.

There are 2 groups of people who whine about facebook ads - marketers who fail to adapt and people with 0 knowledge about marketing/advertising.

>No, I'm saying that marketing is a field like every other and should be treated like it

We're not talking about the field of marketing. We're talking about a specific product. One of many available products that consistently underperforms for a lot of people (including those with experience in the field of marketing).

>it's like me saying "Oh, C++ is so stupid, I can't do "X" with it, although this book says it's comprehensive. Btw, I'm a mommy blogger"

No. It's not. It's like me saying "I have many years of successful marketing experience, using many tools, channels, and approaches. I have found fundamental flaws with this particular product. Many others seem to be reporting the same."

Which is, of course, exactly what I did say. But, you seem to be pretty determined to stick with your worldview.

>I will give you the benefit of the doubt on your accomplishments

My $500M+ in sales and I thank you.

>There are 2 groups of people who whine about facebook ads...

So, you don't even allow for the fact that perhaps something could possibly be wrong with the product, or even that FB ads may simply not be the right channel for every product/business. I understand that you feel very strongly about FB ads (or more accurately that you have disdain for those who don't love them as you do). But, you have to realize that when you make categorical statements like that, it's hard to take you seriously.

This is so stupid and pointless conversation. In this case you have 2 choices - stay in the corner and cry for mommy because facebook is not "fair", or step up your game and figure out how you can make it work for you.

You don't sound like a marketer to me. Usually marketers are not put off by barriers to entry, they are enthralled by them.

I personally am happy that chimps can't make facebook work. Less competition for me.

>This is so stupid and pointless conversation

I agree. I think.

>You don't sound like a marketer to me.

>I personally am happy that chimps can't make facebook work. Less competition for me.

Well then, it sounds like you have it all figured out. Carry on.

If you're going to make me create a custom audience in order for my ad to be successful, don't also make me use or write a scraping tool to grab open groups to populate that audience. It's really a bad idea for Facebook, though it works for savvy advertisers. I stopped doing it because I don't really feel like it's a good thing to promote.

Basically, I have to create the targets extremely specifically, and then Facebook lets me advertise to them. Unfortunately, I haven't had the same success with Facebook's pre-set targeting criteria.

Facebook's advertising tools promote the page like system too much and are too complex for non-specialized workers, I think.

It's not that fundamental.

Buying Facebook likes for a Facebook page is a subset of ads. You're definitely driven towards it in Facebook UI, but if you're Amazon or NetFlix or Expedia or whoever buys billions of ads nowadays, you still buy clicks to your site and bid on CPC basis.

Anecdotal evidence (visiting facebook.com on the Web, seeing 7 ads on the right-hand side) suggests very few businesses actually pay for likes on pages. My current advertisers are tdameritrade.com, amazon.com, fijiairways.com, digitalsherpa.com, getdrip.com, att.com, tahoeaccommodations.com, none of them having a Like button underneath the ad.

So given that, to see significant ROI you need to find genuine experts in how to use each form of media.

So, even if it is technically possible to do well in a given media, if it is really hard to identify who is a genuine expert in that media due to it being new and full of snake-oil merchants, then you are likely to do better in a more established field.

You're correct that there certainly a lot of snake-oil merchants out there. But they're not just limited "new" media channels. Just as many slimeballs in the traditional world.

I'm going to get crucified for this, but paid advertising is somewhat analogous to software engineering/developers. There are many languages/platforms/technologies out there. Some old, some cutting edge. Each one most likely has it's own syntax/terminology, patterns, approaches etc.

So when hiring a full stack engineer, you look for someone who cuts pretty deep across a few key areas, but can also roll up their sleeves across the stack if need be. Example: Ruby Expert, Getting into Angular, and knows how to provision AWS if need be.

Same thing with full stack marketer. If you know Google Adwords, Content Marketing and a bit of PR are your core, then optimize your hire for that.

There is already a bunch of startups around this problem. A friend of mine works at Adaptly which, among many others, let buyers who don't know social media advertising essentially outsource the expertise required to do so effectively. It's always seemed a bit like snake oil to me, but maybe its a real problem.

You're right it's a real problem.

There are literally hundreds of "startups" doing that for social media advertising. Hundreds for search. Hundreds for display, and not just regular display, but RTB(sarcasm)! There are tons of startups doing it for native ads. And don't forget video, seo & content marketing among others.

Add on to that, the partner/provider lists of "startups" that sit on top of one or many of those tools.

And let's not forget about the 1000s of agencies out there to roll it all up.

There are tons of snake oil salesman, and many good tools and people in that list. But as with pretty much any ecosystem, it's 80% crap, 10% meh, 10% bam.

And there is no one right answer. Just like no absolute answer to Python vs Ruby.

So whenever I see articles like, "facebook ads bad! look what they're doing!"

Change it to, "facebook ads bad! Look at all the things I'm doing wrong, but don't even know enough to know I'm doing wrong!"

>it is really hard to identify who is a genuine expert in that media //

Arguably it's easy - if their advertising works then they're good. If you notice a marketing company then they're doing things right to some extent (at least WRT your demographic).

I have my pet theory. I'm yet to find significant evidence for or against it, but it's what my hunch tells me. The theory goes like this:

All on-line ads are mostly worthless - most clicks are from clickfarms, and the genuine parts are mostly by clickjacking or accidental misclicks. Almost no one really wants to buy stuff via ads. Ad agencies keep telling companies that advertising online will generate lots of revenue, but between all those messy, noisy metrics and people generally not understanding a thing about statistics it's hard to see what part of revenue can be really attributed to ads, and whether or not they're worth the money invested.

While there is a lot of fraud, if you actually track from ad click to sale, you'll see SOME amount of results.

In most cases they will be underwhelming, but if the numbers make sense, why not?

example: 2$ per click for a $500 dollar product (assume no other costs_

if you can turn 1 out of 100 clicks into a sale, then it might still be worth it, despite 99 fake, uninterested, botted, clickfarmed or otherwise undesirable clicks.

If you can completely obliterate your margin like that just to make a single sale, I suspect prices are too high and you'd end up doing better by just offering the product at $400.

This is absurd. While I'm sure there is a lot of fraudulent activity and rubbish ad networks (IE Facebook likes, as claimed by the article), traditional online ads are pretty trivial to track at this point for a business that can complete transactions online. If you run a web store, you can track exactly how much sales you get from a particular ad channel and weigh it against the advertising cost by simply creating a unique link for each channel, or using any of the many available ad analytics platforms out there. Entire multi-million/billion dollar businesses are built around arbitraging this opportunity positively, particularly on Google.

Things like Facebook Likes are more difficult to track and are still relatively new, and that's why many people haven't figured them out yet, but over time they will either reach an equilibrium, where value provided is equal to cost or they will disappear.

I'm an anti-ads person, even though I know it hurts some of the sites I like who depend on advertising.

I'm anti-ads because the kind of ads that I am being exposed to are invasive, especially re-targeting ads. I.e. those ads where you've been on a website and thought about buying something, then decided against it? Then you get the same product advertised to you on random other sites you visit.

I cannot stand it when those ads follow me around. In fact, assuming I didn't buy the product or service for a good reason, and I do want to buy the product, I will deliberately buy from a competitor, because fuck you and your invasion of my privacy. It is my own little way of silent protest.

I assume I'm in a minority though and most people don't care. Most of the time I use an ad-blocker. iPad doesn't have a solution unfortunately.

Yes, you are in the tiny minority :) So your actions are pretty inconsequential to most companies

Ha! I love re-targeting... it keeps reminding me of companies who's products I've decided not to purchase automatically! And even better the company is paying someone to remind me not to do business with them!

The only targeting Ads that work for me are amazon.com ads.

I always try to deactivate and fallback to classic ads. It was at least possible in FB some years ago.

> "All on-line ads are mostly worthless"

I would tend to agree, if we keep the "mostly" in mind. You really need to target you ad money on places where the users are already trying to buy something.

Other than that I don't see ads on random sites working any better than television or print ads. Maybe that's okay, but let's face it, I'm not going to buy 10kg of fire wood because I see an ad on a news site.

This is just not true. There is much, much, much waste in online advertising, but there are companies who make it work and then go on to go public or get acquired for large amounts.

Right now at Perfect Audience, we have many customers using our tools and seeing anything from $5-15 in sales from each $1 they spend. It takes time and work to get to the high end of that spectrum, but people get there and it grows their business swiftly.

I disagree somewhat. Buying ads on google's search engine makes a lot of sense (for us), as google closes the loop from impression to click to sale (ads served to places where sales occur, keyword bids adjusted automatically based on sales). For my clients, google adwords adverts typically result in 100x-400x sales vs ad spend. A good deal for all involved.

So it's more of a hypothesis than a theory.

I used "theory" in the common meaning, but you're right, it would be better if I used "hypothesis" instead. I'll try to do better next time.

We learned this last year when we started paying for ads on Facebook. Our app is in a niche market (Flight Simulator for mobile devices), I assumed that very little people would click, but we saw a constant increase of about 1K likes/day. After looking at the analytics, I decided to cut Brazil and India. We had a huge disconnect between our App Store country data and those ads, and we also saw no noticeable change in our sales figures.

The accounts also were random like the one in the OP video, a Indian teenage girl liking a Flight Simulator? Why not... Hundreds? nope...

I feel like I've been cheated by Facebook in a way and would like my money back. They sure can find a way to figure out if those clicks are legitimate. Someone has 3K likes of random interests? That's a red flag to me.

Soon more businesses will find that the Likes does not help their online marketing at all. This is a major SEO problem that most of the businesses are hunting for. Can we find some other ways to resolved it? http://bit.ly/LRSdkJ

Why should I click some random URL shortened link no matter how enticing you think the lead in is?

Good point. I thought the question leading the link means there is some possible solution for it. Another reason is that I don't want to have a long URL to block people from reading. This last one is for tracking on bitly.

I'll put the complete url in the future posts. Here it is: http://bingobo.info/blog/bingobo/how-bingobo-can-help-busine...

It shouldn't matter if ads are priced on the basis of ROI instead of per-user (which it is). The ads are only as cheap as they are because they're being farmed, if they weren't they would be much more expensive.

But at least that would be some honest math up-front. And perhaps fewer ads.

I mean, how it stands now you've compounded the problem given the fake engagement and following you've built and how that changes which posts get promoted.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact