Facebook adverts "not worth the money"
Filed under: News
The ads are often paid for on a "cost per click" basis, with businesses striving to get as many "likes" as possible from the 900 million or so people with Facebook profiles.
Recent figures indicate that an advert targeted at all Facebook users over the age of 18, for example, costs at least 70p a click.
However, a BBC investigation involving the creation of a fake business called VirtualBagel has revealed that many of the Facebook users who "like" such adverts have no intention of buying the products or services on offer.
It also appears that many of the account holders who click on the links give incorrect personal details and may be fake users designed to spread spam.
A spokesman for Facebook, which has revealed that between 5% and 6% of its 901 million users might be fake, said: "A very small percentage of users do open accounts using pseudonyms but we use automated systems to help us detect them."
This did not stop the Facebook page for VirtualBagel - a made-up company with no products - attracting a number of suspicious-looking fans, though.
The BBC targeted the VirtualBagel ads widely at users across the US, UK and a number of Middle Eastern and Asian countries. And within 24 hours, VirtualBagel had more than 1,600 "likes".
The bad news for companies keen to tap the lucrative US and UK markets, however, is that almost all the Facebook users who liked the page came from India, Egypt, Indonesia and the Philippines.
When the advert was adjusted to target UK Facebook users only, the so-called click-through rate also plummeted to just 10% of the previous level - suggesting that Facebook adverts are not as useful for contacting potential customers as some businesses think.
Facebook, which relies heavily on advertising revenue, has nevertheless refuted the claims, pointing out that it advises advertisers to target specific groups to improve the effectiveness of their campaigns.
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