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Paying Facebook for Website Clicks

Posted by Steve Cameron
Steve Cameron
Steve Cameron is the Director Owner of Advent Communication. With more than 25 years experience he has a deep...
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on Tuesday, 28 June 2016 in facebook


Caveat Emptor - Buyer Beware.

If you're buying clicks online it pays (literally) to make sure you know what you are buying.

And when it comes to facebook, I thought that I needed to pay most attention to those companies looking to sell me hundreds of devoted followers for pennies... but it turns out, I have to worry more about facebook themselves.

We recently launched a small campaign for a client using the "video" option rather than a photograph. It's an option facebook offer and it whilst it is more of an animated slideshow than a video, it seemed like a nice way to present the client's product range.

Alongside the text and images we chose to pay for "website clicks". And then we sat back to watch the traffic.

facebook ad clicksInitially, things seemed to be going pretty well - we were getting "website clicks" for pennies and the client was really happy. But as the minutes turned into hours it quickly became clear that there was a massive mismatch between the number of "website clicks" facebook was telling us we were getting and the number of actual website visitors we were seeing in our Google Analytics account.


I got in touch with facebook and they actually called me back the next day. The support agent explained that there is often a disconnect between visits tracked in one platform and those tracked in another - I get that, it happens all over the place - but not at a ratio of 1 to 10 - which is what we were seeing. He suggested adding the facebook pixel to the page to check against the Analytics code. And I asked at this point if there was perhaps a difference between a click on one part of the ad - the title, for example - compared with another element, the "Learn More" button, maybe.

Nope - it doesn't matter where a person clicks on the ad it triggers a visit to the website - he told me. I should see a correction in the next day or so.

That was Friday. By Monday we still had a tenfold number of "website clicks" reporting in facebook compared to Google Analytics. But the Google Analytics and the facebook pixel were best of friends and very close to one another in their vision.

Back to facebook... they needed to investigate further and would get back to me. Which they did - with an explanation that when a user clicks on the video that action plays the video and does not take the user to the website.

This was the explanation. And I guess that's a reasonable explanation - at the very least it helps me understand the mechanics and, of course, the mismatch. Problem solved.

Except... I went back to check and although we were only paying a few cents per "website click", we had been charged for every time a person clicked on the ad - even when this only resulted in the slideshow being started - which was around 90% of the time.

Now, you can call me pernickety if you like - but if you're going to charge me for a "website click" - I'd like to see a person click and be taken to my website. The clue is really in the name; "website click".... it's not called "slideshow view", or something equally meaningless like "play video". No, facebook, you sell it as a "website click" - and in 90% of the actions I have been charged for, it is not.

I have messaged facebook to ask them to refund 90% of the spend to date, and I have changed the video to a static image. I am sure this is something that facebook have introduced fairly recently and this is, perhaps, why their support staff took so long to figure out the problem - but this could have broader implications if it's not fixed quickly.

In the meantime, if you are using the video option in your ads, you might want to check to see how many "website clicks" are leading to visitors getting to your website.

I'd love to hear if this is happening to others - please use the comments below or message me directly on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or on twitter @adventcom


Facebook replied : 

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your message. I am sorry there seems to be a bit of a confusion on this matter. Video views could be counted in case your video would be played externally.  

Website clicks are not the same as website visits, you cannot compare data and say that website clicks are not working because they don't match data that is not the same. One cannot compare apples and oranges. You set this campaign to be charged per website clicks, that is what is being charged, not visits.

Although you are reaching to get more website visits as a result from advertising on Facebook and the expectations you had were different it does not mean that there is any error on our part.

Many users will not like the idea of being redirected and will immediately close the window for your page after clicking on the Ad.

Many third-party tracking providers use referrer URLs to credit conversions back to ads. These providers generally under-report Facebook conversions by about 40%. This is due to the fact that roughly 40% of people browse Facebook using HTTPS instead of HTTP and when someone clicks on an ad on Facebook and converts on a site, the referrer cannot be recorded since they left an HTTPS environment and entered an HTTP environment.

Your Facebook pixel may not fire if the user has an ad blocker implemented to the browser. This will cause undercounting conversions, hence, the number may be lower than your internal data.

My reply:


I beg to differ.

If a pricing structure is based on “website clicks” then I should be paying when a person “clicks” to visit my “website”.

The fact that they close their window when they realise that they are being taken out of Facebook is a different point - I accept that this might happen in certain circumstances - but this is not the case. As you have explained in your previous message - the “click” would trigger the video to play - not a visit to the website.

At no moment in this scenario was a visitor changing their mind before the destination page fully loaded. After their click - for which we pay - they would never arrive at the website… - thus, by definition, this is not a “website click”.

As to my “expectations being different” - exactly what expectations am I supposed to have if I agree to pay you for every “website click”??

Surely it is fair to expect that this would be when someone clicks on something that would take them to my website… even if they abandon this in an instant.

I don’t think I was confused or that I had the wrong expectations. If I offered to sell you a Mercedes and you paid me, only to receive a Ford Fiesta I think you would be right to be upset.

The very fact that you continue to insist that a Website click” does not mean a click that would take you to a website is a mystery to me.

I am very disappointed that you have chosen to try and defend this (indefensible) position. I will be far more careful with the campaigns I run on Facebook from now on… although if you chose to misrepresent things, I’m not sure how I will know exactly what I am agreeing to buy.

... will update as further correspondence is received.

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http://Steve Cameron Wednesday, 21 September 2016

There are so many ad parameters springing up on Facebook every day. As a marketer we need to set our objectives straight and clear to get valuable returns. Also once the campaign is set, monitoring becomes an important part to check on the expenditure.

Steve Cameron Wednesday, 21 September 2016

I couldn't agree more! Unfortunately, in this instance I feel we, as marketers - and customers - are being misled and we cannot base our analysis on website visits when there simply isn't a website visit. Unless we know what it is exactly that we are paying for, we cannot effectively judge its value.
Even if facebook were to call these "clicks" it would still be misleading because we use that terminology in the sense of a click that links to a website - and this is still not the case.
I feel sorry for those people that do not track as well as you clearly do, and who believe that they are paying facebook for people who visit their site. Without Google aAalytics to check it is a fair assumption.

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