Google

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Google, Too Big To Go Unnoticed

A major announcement came this week with the opening of an antitrust investigation into Google. The tech monopoly is being scrutinized for their stronghold on the market which is stifling competition and industry innovation due to their overwhelming control of the market. The probe specifically targets Google’s advertising structure and search technology which have made it difficult for other businesses to compete in the space, harming availability and pricing for consumers.

Big tech companies have experienced this level of criticism from European countries but this is the first it has come within the US. The multi-state bipartisan investigation has been prompted by filings from 50 US Attorneys Generals in what they see as a lack of Google’s desire to leverage the free market for success and undermining consumers to gain an overwhelming share of the digital space. 

The investigation is still very much in the preliminary stages but is expected to expand to data privacy and usage, as has been the focus for other large tech companies. The banning together of the state attorneys generals should not be taken lightly as they have had significant impact on the structure of other industries such as payment from Big Tobacco for related health issues and anti-smoking campaigns to the reform of mortgage lending practices that were harming consumers. The spotlight on Google could intensify the digging into big tech practices depending on their findings.

While it would be premature to speculate where this will lead, it’s clear that the tech giants are under the microscope. It’s also important to note the timing of the investigation as it pertains to the political arena. With so much concern around fake news and bias by big tech, it could be another push for clean and fair election practices.

https://www.mobilemarketer.com/news/google-targeted-by-state-authorities-in-antitrust-probe/562565/

Some Good News For Facebook

The Facebook News Tab is becoming more of a reality and details are emerging about how the platform will integrate with publishers to curate news content. The move to include a news tab has been carefully planned as the company has faced ongoing scrutiny whether they have previously harbored political bias when choosing stories to highlight. In the new launch, Facebook plans to partner with ‘high quality” news outlets that lend credibility to ensure information shared is accurate and dependable.  

An internal memo was obtained this week detailing Facebook’s news content selection process which included the assistance of human editors who will play an integral role in choosing which news headlines are displayed on the tab. What was not clear was how the company will create clearly defined policies for those employees as to avoid personal bias playing a factor.  

As outlined, the editors will focus on promoting news based with the outlet that first broke the story and also prioritize those done by local media. While this sounds good on paper, the execution could prove to be a bit tricky, especially in the case of major news events where it’s critical to get the information out quickly and accurately. 

The most critical of the editor duties noted in the memo may be working to avoid content that’s “constructed to provoke, divide, and polarize” and focusing stories with “on-the-record sources.” Many news outlets choose more riveting headlines to evoke an immediate response to read and share the news. Using less descriptive headlines may decrease engagement for both Facebook and the publisher. 

Reports on publisher licensing were also included and are said to involve three-year contracts between the news organizations and Facebook that also include up to $3 million in payments from the social media giant. The large payout is believed to show Facebook’s commitment to building a reliable news platform. However, it also poses questions about the details included in the arrangement and the accountability required by entering the partnership.

As the electoral season is about to head into full swing with candidate and social topics taking up much of the news cycle, it will be interesting to watch this story develop. The addition could open an opportunity for news redemption for Facebook or it could plant additional seeds of doubt as to the company’s motives.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/more-details-emerge-around-facebooks-coming-news-section/562735/

Uncle Ben’s Brings Dinner To Life

If you’ve ever wandered the grocery aisle hoping for some dinner recipe inspiration, Uncle Ben’s is serving up just what you’ve been looking for this month. In a partnership with the visual search technology of Google Lens and Innit, a personalized food shopping solution, shoppers will be able to scan the company’s products as well as some in-store displays for an enhanced shopping experience during “Family Meals Month.” The scan will connect with Innit for recipes and how-to videos incorporating the selected product. Customers who are registered Innit users will have access to additional recommendations based on their app profiles where they’ve provided food preferences or dietary limitations.

Accessing personalized, real-time content offers the company a competitive edge for shoppers struggling to plan a quick meal. By offering meal suggestions that include other Uncle Ben’s products, it could also boost sales and boost brand loyalty.

The partnership could be the first of many as visual search continues to gain popularity. The additional customization that comes from using Innit brings added ability to remove the stress of family meal planning, providing additional convenience to shoppers and more family time around the dinner table. 

https://www.mobilemarketer.com/news/uncle-bens-serves-dynamic-content-in-stores-via-google-lens-integration/562785/

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Facebook Considers Removing Likes

After more than a decade of building its business around likes, Facebook will begin testing removing the count from public view in user feeds. Much like Instagram, the parent company intends to shift focus to content quality to better foster a sense of online community and keeping people connected. The like or reaction count would be visible to the post creator but would be hidden from view from others and could be permanently implemented across the platform. 

While the potential change would likely not have much impact on brand advertising, it could dramatically affect their relationships with influencers. Brands currently review influencer follower and like counts when choosing partnerships. Without this information, evaluation would require other aspects of an influencer account, such as content creativity and follower interaction, when determining which partners would be the best fit for the brand. This could create an additional hurdle for content creators when seeking brand sponsorship opportunities.

The company currently has no projected timeline for if or when they plan to implement the change to all users but, it does appear the shift could be on the horizon with testing now taking place on both major platforms. This combined with other recent changes by Facebook, imply a refined focus by the company on creating quality content and rebuilding user trust in the wake of ongoing privacy concerns. The process of rebuilding may also come renewed faith by marketers, driving engagement and advertising dollars. 

With social platforms being a relatively new industry, there is still much that’s unknown on creating maximum effectiveness and peak usability without the invasion of user privacy.  As people continue to evolve their use of social media, the platforms themselves will need to be prepared to adapt in order to stay relevant.

https://marketingland.com/facebook-confirms-it-is-considering-removing-like-counts-266535?

Binge-watch With The Help of Google 

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by all of your streaming options, you’re not alone. Looking for the right program can sometimes take longer than the actual show or movie itself. To help those undecided viewers, Google announced the release of a recommendation feature connected to searches to make binge watching that much easier. 

The added feature will customize suggested titles by considering entered search terms, selected providers, and historical reviews of movies or shows previously viewed. Prior to the update, Google supplied program details such as ratings,critic and user reviews, and the cast list but search criteria had to be specific. Now, users can look for suggestions more broadly with terms like “80s movies,” “romantic comedies,” or “good shows to watch” and a list of top picks will populate.Once suggestions appear, users can further customize by creating a profile of likes and dislikes under “Top picks for you.” The feature will display 5-10 show and movie titles with the option to like, dislike, or skip which helps the algorithm understand the user future search suggestions. Users can also opt to indicate which streaming services and cable options they use which will allow for direct links from programs to services available.   

The basis of the addition is all about customization users crave and expect online. Google confirms that the information is strictly used to help viewers and is not leveraged for advertising opportunities. Based on the wealth of entertainment data available if you can’t find something with Google’s assistance, you may be better off going to bed.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/09/05/googles-new-feature-will-help-you-find-something-to-watch/

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It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year...Already

The calendar may only say September, but holiday shopping is already on the minds of marketers. For the rest of the year, it remains the primary strategy focus and will only continue to gain momentum.  Understanding the shifts in shopping behavior is essential to brands for messaging and utilizing the proper channels to reach consumers during this peak shopping time. While shoppers remain divided on their approach, a recently released Coresight Research Holiday 2019: US Shopper Survey,noted the increasing shift to online shopping continues.  However, an overwhelming number of shoppers, 55% of Gen Z shoppers and 54% of Boomers will continue to go in-store to check off their holiday shopping list. While this is good news for retail locations, it leaves much uncertainty as to whether shoppers continue to come in-store simply to browse and price compare and then complete their final purchases online.

Shopping behavior continues to be mixed as many survey respondents indicated they will use a combination of online shopping and visiting brick-and-mortar locations while others are happy to never stepping foot in a store. Reasons for continuing to go into retail locations ranged from the need to browse for the perfect gift idea, tangibly seeing and testing items before purchase, and simply enjoying holiday shopping time and being part of the festivities. Although many plan to continue to shop in-store, over 44% of survey respondents felt just the opposite and liked the convenience of online shopping to avoid crowds followed by those who liked the ease and time saving elements of digital shopping. Consumers planning to do at least some holiday shopping online, are largely choosing Amazon over Walmart and Target, which were popular stops in previous years.

A somewhat surprising finding from the survey was the impact of recent economic changes on behavior.  Nearly 60% of the 1,784 shoppers surveyed reported concern of product price increases this season due to newly imposed tariffs on items coming from China. This uncertainty may have a larger effect on brands as it could require an adjustment in strategy to overcome shopper hesitation. 

The overall consensus from the survey data and behavioral trends illustrated primary concerns for shopping decisions come down to four common themes; price, product availability, promotional opportunities, and finding the best product quality across brands. Overall, consumers are not committed to one way of holiday shopping and will continue dividing their efforts online and in retailer locations. While the behaviors continue to evolve, there are still a large percentage of people who simply enjoy the energy and magic of the in-store experience during the holidays. 

https://www.retaildive.com/news/walmart-target-could-lose-holiday-customers-to-amazon/562203/

Using Google Tools to Understand Audience & Drive Performance

Using Ad Customizers to Personalize Your Google Search Ads

What are ad customizers?

Though we are constantly testing ad copy, it’s not feasible to manually create hundreds of variants to ensure we are showing the most relevant ad to each and every searcher. Fortunately, Google offers tools that allow us to create text ads that update dynamically based on the terms someone is searching, his location, day of the week, device & more at a large scale. When using customizers, be mindful that your ad copy allows for the additional characters the customizer generates and stays within Google’s character limits

When and how to use ad customizers

Countdown ads allow you to include a real-time event countdown in your ads. The counter will count down by days, hours, then minutes to the event and can appear in any headline or description. Countdown ads are useful for creating a sense of urgency around sales, holidays, and deadlines, which can improve conversion rate and conversion volume. To create a countdown ad, type “{“ where you want the countdown to appear & select “Countdown” from the dropdown menu. Fill in the start & end dates, time zone, and language, then save. The countdown customizer will appear in your ad as {=COUNTDOWN(“YYYY/MM/DD HH:MM:SS”,”language”,daysBefore)}. GLOBAL_COUNTDOWN displays the same count across time zones. A florist might include the countdown “Order Now, Only {=COUNTDOWN(“2019/5/12 00:00:00”,”en-US”,10)} Until Mother’s Day!” in her ad copy, which will appear to a searcher as “Order Now, Only 10 Days Until Mother’s Day!” Countdown ads automatically end when the countdown is over, so make sure you have at least one static ad in each ad group.

Keyword insertion makes ads more relevant by inserting the keyword that matched to a searcher’s query into your ad copy. For example, if your ad group includes the keywords plumber, best plumber, commercial plumber, and emergency plumber, your ad copy will show best plumber to people who search “best plumber” and emergency plumber to people who search for “emergency plumber”, etc. To use dynamic keyword insertion in your ads, type “{“ where you want your keyword to appear and select Keyword insertion from the dropdown menu. Fill in the default text field and select your capitalization. A title case keyword will show as “{KeyWord:Default Text}” in your ad copy. When a keyword is too long to be inserted, your default text will show instead. You can also enter create ads with dynamic keyword insertion manually by typing {KeyWord:Default Text} directly in your ad copy. Capitalize “keyword” based on the case you want to use. Make sure this capitalization is consistent with the rest of your ad copy. Now, when a customer uses one of your keywords in their search, Google Ads automatically replaces the code with the keyword that triggered your ad.

Be careful not to use dynamic keyword insertion on competitor ad groups & make sure that your keywords are short enough to be inserted. Otherwise, your ads will serve with your generic default text, instead of the relevant keyword.

IF functions insert text based on audience or device and are useful for remarketing and device specific offers or CTAs. To use an IF function, type “{“ where you want your message to appear and select IF function from the dropdown menu. Then, select your condition. Choose Device to customize your ad copy for mobile devices or Audience to customize your message based on the audience the searcher belongs to. In the THEN box, type a customized message for your mobile users or chosen audience. In the OTHERWISE box, enter your default ad text. The IF function will appear in your ad as {=IF(Condition,insert text):default text}.

A college enrollment campaign might use a device IF function to drive calls from mobile users, while directing desktop users to an online registration form: “Visit State College {=IF(device=mobile,Call Today to Schedule a Tour.):Register for a Campus Tour Online.}.” Mobile users will see “Visit State College. Call Today to Schedule A Tour” while desktop users will see “Visit State College. Register for a Campus Tour Online.

eCommerce advertisers can use audience IF functions to drive revenue through remarketing by showing a special discount to cart abandoners and standard ad copy to everyone else. For example “Save {=IF(audience IN(cart abandoners),25%):10%} Sitewide.” Cart abandoners will see an ad that says “Save 25% Sitewide” while all other audiences will be given a reduced discount with “Save 10% Sitewide.”

Ad customizers allow you to tailor your ad copy to the context of a searcher’s query by any attribute of your choosing based on a feed of your business data, including geo, keyword, ad group, product type and more. You can upload feeds in Google Ads under Settings > Business Data. You can schedule regular feed uploads to make sure your business data is up to date. Google Ads even offers an ad customizer data template to help you get started. As with dynamic keyword insertion and IF functions, ad customizers allow you to set default text for your attributes in case the data from the feed pushes your copy beyond Google’s character limits. Once the feed is uploaded, you can insert customizers into your ad by typing where feedName is the name of your feed and colName is the column in the feed you are pulling data from.

One attribute you can use an ad customizer for, target location, is especially useful for advertisers who have multiple store locations. Target location customizers update your ad based on the location of a searcher or the location a searcher is interested in. A paint store with over 50 locations across multiple states can easily create ad copy that is relevant to local searchers without manually writing the store location into multiple ads with “Find the Perfect Latex Paint at Your Interior Paint Store.” They also allow the campaign to scale with ease as new locations open.

Experiment with different ad customizers as part of your ad copy testing to see what performs best. You can also apply learnings from your customizers to your static ads. Ad customizers are a powerful tool for managing ad copy at scale and can help you show the most relevant ads to searchers.

Using Google Tools to Understand Audience & Drive Performance

What In-Market Audiences Are And How To Use Them

Search advertisers have an array of audience targeting options at their disposal. They can remarket with RLSA, reach current customers with Customer Match, prospect with Similar Audiences, or narrow their reach with demographic targeting. Google Ads also offers a newer targeting tool, In-Market Audiences for Search, that allows advertisers to reach users at the bottom of the sales funnel.

Google classifies searchers as in-market for a variety of products and services ranging from “Motor Vehicles By Brand” to “Gyms & Athletic Clubs” to “Strollers & Baby Carriages” to “Moving & Relocation” - over 170 audiences overall. In-Market audiences allow you to target users whose search & browsing behavior indicate they are actively researching & considering buying, or “in-market” for, your products or services. Targeting audiences with a high purchase intent can drive conversions & help reduce wasted spend. In-Market audiences, which are also available in Microsoft Ads, can be added at the campaign or ad group level.

If you’re unsure which In-Market audiences are most valuable to your business, use Google Ad’s Audience Insights or Google Analytics to find valuable, data-based information on who your customers are and how they compare to the average searcher. Insights are available in Google Ads when at least one of your audience lists includes 1000+ people. An auto dealer client, for example, can reach an audience of 25 to 30 million searchers in-market for “Vans & Minivans”  who are 18.6x more likely to convert than the average searcher. This makes sense, however some highly indexed audiences for the same account are less straightforward: those In-Market for “Camping & Hiking Equipment” are 11.6x more likely & those In-Market for “Fireplaces” are 14.2x more likely to convert than the average user.

After deciding which In-Market audiences to test, apply them across your campaigns or ad groups on Observation (Bid-Only) mode. Applying your audiences on Observation mode ensures you can gather data on the In-Market audiences you’ve applied without restricting your campaign targeting. Once your In-Market audiences have gathered enough data in Observation mode, you should have a good idea of which In-Market audiences are driving conversions relative to your account’s overall audience, and can adjust bids up or down based on performance. You can leverage your findings across the Google Display Network, YouTube, Gmail, and Search. Bid these audiences up on search, or create a video or display campaign targeting only the users in your top In-Market audiences. Continue to monitor & analyze audience performance, as it may vary across campaigns & channels. In-Market audiences are a powerful targeting tool that every search marketer should be testing.

Using Google Tools to Understand Audience & Drive Performance

Using Google Tools To Understand Your Audience

As digital advertisers, we are constantly trying to determine the optimal targeting for our SEM efforts. Understanding your customer personas, the profiles that represent your ideal customers, will help you tailor your digital marketing efforts and set your campaign targeting effectively.

While there are a handful of methods you can use to understand your customer base, including market research, surveys, polls, and social listening, one of the best ways is to dive into your site & campaign analytics. Google offers two tools that can help you quickly understand your audience: Google Analytics & Google Ads Audience Insights.

Using Google Analytics for Audience Research

Google Analytics is a rich source of information about your customers. You can see where your site visitors came from, which terms they searched to find you, how much time they spent on the site & more. You can also find valuable information on your customers’ interests, age, gender, location and even which device & browser they used.

Audience Reports in GA

Google Analytics Audience Reports give detailed information about who visited your site. Audience Reports contains over 15 subsections, but we will focus on Demographics & Interests here.

The Demographics report gives you insight into the age and gender of your site visitors, and each demographic group’s behavior on the site. The overview gives you a high level demographic breakdown of users by age and gender, and you can toggle through other key metrics like sessions, bounce rate, and session duration as well. The Age & Gender reports give a more granular look at each age group’s or gender’s behavior on your site, including bounce rate, pages per session, duration, and goal completion.

The Interest report in turn gives you a psychographic view of your audience. Google Analytics segments interests into three categories: Affinity, In-Market, and Other. Affinity includes users with a more general interest in topics, such as “Cooking Enthusiasts” or “Travel Buffs.” In-Market includes those users at the bottom of the funnel who are ready to convert, with more specific segments like “Home Decor” and “Hotel & Accommodations.” Other categories is similar to Affinity, but provides a more granular view, for example “Home & Garden/Bed & Bath/Bedroom/Bedding & Bed Linens.” Like the Demographic overview above, the Interests overview breaks down key metrics by each of the top ten interests in each category, and you can drill down into each category’s report acquisition, behavior, and conversion metrics.

Understanding the demographic & psychographic composition of your customers will not only ensure your campaign settings target the users with the highest conversion or goal completion rates, but also inform the creative, ad copy, and overall messaging of your marketing efforts. These reports can also help you gauge whether your campaigns are, in fact, sending the right visitors to your site. You can even use age, gender, and interest segments to create remarketing audiences to use in Google Ads.

Using Google Ads Audience Insights for Audience Research

The Google Ads audience insights tool helps you learn about who your converters and website visitors are, as well as find new audiences to target. Audience Insights is housed in the Shared Library under the Audience Manager.

Google Ads Audience Insights report

The Audience Insights report is a valuable resource for determining where, when, and to whom you should be advertising your products or services to drive conversions for your Gmail, YouTube, & display campaigns, and can also help you choose more relevant keywords & messaging to implement in your search campaigns, set bids, and more. Audience Insights benchmarks your website visitors against the United States on demographics, location, devices and interests. For example, the traffic for one of our clients in home goods retail is 66% more likely to be female and between 35 to 54 years old, 42% more likely to be parents, and 76% more likely to be visiting from a computer than the general US population. We also know that our visitors are 10.3x more likely to be in-market for “Kitchen & Bathroom Counters” and 3.2x more likely to be “Beach Bound Travelers.” Armed with your customer persona, you can leverage your findings and refine your paid media strategy to drive high-value traffic to your site.

Once you’ve created your customer persona, continue to periodically review your data in Google Analytics & Google Ads. Buying habits & preferences can change over time, so it’s important to reevaluate and recreate your personas especially if you’ve gone through new product launches or industry changes.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Google Is Listening To Its Users

If you are becoming increasingly wary of voice activated in-home devices, then you aren’t alone. The uncertainty around how much the speakers are hearing and where that information goes has become a major privacy concern. Speaker listening when not prompted in light of the recent leak of confidential data security policies has many wondering what is being recorded, saved and heard by real people. 

Google’s product manager for search did in fact confirm these suspicions were rooted in truth but not for reasons many feared. However, the explanation for such practices was positioned as a way to help the user experience. Google insists conversations are reviewed by language experts in order to advance search query technology and advance product capabilities and speech recognition. The audio snippets used for these purposes are not associated with a user account and conversations not directed at Google should not be transcribed.

However, the concern that the devices could be “listening” to conversations when not being directly prompted or engaged in what Google calls a “false accept,” increases questions around the company’s practices These can be heard without any action from the users but still may be reviewed as part of the desire for product and voice recognition advancement.

While Google claims just 0.2 percent of all audio snippets are being accessed by language reviewers, there’s no way to confirm the validity nor if there are any user actions being inadvertently taken to prompt the recording.

As the industry continues to face mounting privacy and data monetization concerns, the confirmation that voice data is not being used strictly for AI but can be accessible to a live human may increase the wariness. Questions remain about that data then being leaked or used for malicious purposes with little to no trail leading back to the culprits.

Technological advances are creating increasing conveniences but at what cost remains unknown. Companies are recognizing the mounting dissent and are faced with trying to find ways to increase user’s trust. Confidence in a brand’s integrity is becoming paramount.

https://www.inc.com/jason-aten/google-is-absolutely-listening-to-your-conversations-it-just-confirms-why-people-dont-trust-big-tech.html

Prime Week for Retail

The 2019 Amazon Prime Day sales figures are still uncertain but are predicted to have surpassed Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. With shoppers eager to snatch up deals at discount prices, the effect of the sale on retail as a whole is becoming apparent. No longer are the low prices exclusive Amazon. Instead, companies are embracing the hype for their own sales in an attempt to ride the momentum. According to Adobe Analytics, retailers with over $1 billion in annual revenue saw their own spike in sales on day one of Amazon Prime Day of up to 64%, compared to an average Monday. Proving the Amazon effect extends much further than the platform itself.

As the online event continues to gain popularity as a staple for summer shopping, other companies are leveraging the sale to promote exclusive savings of their own. Many of their offers extend longer than just two days in an effort to capture those eager buyers throughout the remainder of the week. Overall, visits to online retailers as a whole accounted for a 66% lift in revenue so far this week. With RetailMeNot reporting 35% of competing brands using clever marketing to play off Amazon’s messaging such as “Prime Savings” or “Prime Deals,” the impact of the strategy seems to be benefiting retailers across the board.

While competition continues to increase for what is now one of the biggest sales of the year, it appears Amazon’s reach combined with two day shipping continue to lift the company above the rest. However, as brands continue to refine their approach, it will be interesting to see who gives Amazon the best run for their money.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/heres-how-the-first-24-hours-of-prime-day-shook-out/

Facebook Guides Advertisers Through The Holidays

Media companies are increasing their arsenal of planning tools to help advertisers strategize and reach consumers more effectively. With the biggest shopping time of the year quickly approaching, this week Facebook released several tools that highlights trends, past insights, and tricks for gaining an edge on the holiday market.

The announcement included the release of an insights tool which is a compilation of previous year’s finding on how people shop and types of ads that drove purchases. The tool is an incredibly helpful aid for planning holiday marketing strategies. While it’s only July, marketers should already be reviewing their plans and budgets for the holiday season. Leveraging this data can assist in creating a campaign structure that is both impactful and cost effective for ad dollars.

In addition, a 2019 Holiday Marketing Guide was also unveiled. The guide walks through the consumer journey and how shoppers can be nurtured along the way to complete a purchase. Facebook also highlights its reach and influence throughout the process. The 63 page marketing planning tool covers through everything from important dates, in-depth analysis about how people shop, and step-by-step instructions on how and when to strategize as well as what’s needed at each phase. 

The goal of providing such resources is to help marketers which in turn, helps Facebook’s bottom line. Many other big tech platforms realize distributing this information comes with huge benefits for everyone. While Facebook did a similar guide in previous years, Snapchat released their own guide which walks advertisers through key events, including holidays on a much higher level as an assistance to marketers. The insights are incredibly valuable and are sure to help brands across platforms.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/facebook-launches-new-holiday-season-insights-guide-to-assist-in-campaign-p/558982/

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Tech Giants To Face Congressional Hearing

Next week, digital tech giants Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook will put their competitiveness aside as representatives from each are set to testify before a congressional panel. The companies are all part of an antitrust investigation as concerns rise about their hold on the market. Details are still sparse, but questioning will likely center around the massive control and influence the digital companies have over internet practices.The case comes as there are growing concerns the tech companies are abusing power to discourage competition.The hearing will involve each facing the House of Representatives antitrust subcommittee. 

As the congressional trial hearing looms, the case isn’t to be taken lightly as big tech company practices have been under intense scrutiny over the last year.  the investigation is not focused on any one particular company, but rather the operation of the industry as a whole, potentially having a ripple effect on others in the space.

 The probe is just one of the legal challenges big tech is facing lately. As reported by the Wall Street Journal last month, Google is involved in a separate investigation with the Department of Justice in relation to the collection and monetization of personal data. Legislation, such as the DASHBOARD Act and a bill preventing location tracking without direct consent from users, is also being proposed to better regulate the industry and protect consumers.

As the spotlight continues to shine on tech industry leaders, more details are being uncovered about operation practices. However, with the evolution of technology continuing at record speed, proactively protecting consumers will be an ongoing challenge.

https://adage.com/article/news/google-amazon-apple-testify-antitrust-probe-congress/2182656

Instagram Adds Restrictions For Bullies

In a follow-up to Instagram’s anti-bullying commitment, the company unveiled a new platform feature this week intended to combat harmful and offensive comments. As previously noted, Instagram has been experimenting with ideas to promote a greater focus on community rather than competition and encouraging users to have more control over their experience.

The new feature will leverage AI to monitor comments as an added reminder for posters to rethink negative online comments. When a user attempts to post something which could be deemed offensive, they will receive a notification asking if they are sure they want to continue the post. The alert is meant to trigger additional thought and reconsider their actions before posting.

The next phase of control options plans to test ways to restrict unwanted users without their knowledge. With many young people reporting that they are hesitant to block, unfollow or report harassing users in an effort to avoid escalation, both on and off online, Instagram will offer a “Restrict” option. Without notifying the offensive party, all comments from the restricted user will only be visible to them as if they are posted but no others will see their comments on posts without the approval of the profile owner. This will also prevent the blocked user from seeing if the person who enabled the function is online or has read their direct messages. 

As bullying and positive mental health continue to be prevalent issues for social media platforms, Instagram is dedicated to refining their strategy to maintain a community focus.

https://instagram-press.com/blog/2019/07/08/our-commitment-to-lead-the-fight-against-online-bullying/

Google shopping just got more personal

For many shoppers, Google has become the first stop for a quick comparison of products and brands. Without having to visit multiple sites for information, a quick search displays multiple options for buyers, making shopping online even easier. The feature also benefits retailers as purchases must be made on their respective sites, driving additional traffic.

The ability to see reviews in the product postings is a feature many shoppers value when comparing options. In an effort to add authenticity and a more personalized experience, Google has now included customer photos to the product reviews. With 88% of shoppers researching products online before making a purchase, this addition will encourage more user-generated content and unscripted product information.

While it’s uncertain exactly how this will impact advertisers, it will incentivize them to encourage customer feedback and take note of what people are saying in the market. As shoppers are increasingly influenced by consumer reviews, the added feature will not go unnoticed. 

https://searchengineland.com/new-google-shopping-program-enables-customer-photos-to-show-with-their-product-reviews-319341

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Chipotle Aims For Nothing But Net With Its Burrito Giveaway

The NBA finals are about to start and Chipotle is hoping for a slam dunk with its “Freeting” campaign, giving away $1 million worth of free burritos during final tournament play. The company is placing its bets on second-screen viewing to drive social engagement, online orders, and in-store traffic. With over 45% of US adults saying they use a second screen very often or always while watching television, it’s an opportunity to reach coveted NBA fans who are checking their mobile devices throughout the games.  

So how do you score free grub?  Every time an announcer says “free” on air during the first half of the game, Chipotle will offer up to 500 free burritos. The offer doubles in the second half, keeping viewers engaged for even more chances to win.  Unique codes will be tweeted on Chipotle’s Twitter account following on-air cues and viewers simply need to text the code back to receive a redemption coupon for a free burrito. Code users with orders over $10 will also receive free delivery on Chipotle’s app, website or through DoorDash during the games.

The promotion is powerful team strategy of multiple platforms to drive online and in-store traffic.  The company opted for the “Freeting” campaign in place of a much more costly official sponsorship or commercial during the tournament.  Chipotle is banking on the appeal of friendly competition combined with free food as a creative way to win new fans and a victory with game viewers.

https://www.mobilemarketer.com/news/chipotle-integrates-twitter-with-sms-to-dole-out-free-burritos-to-basketbal/555638/

Facebook Uncovers Record Number of Fraudulent Accounts

In the first quarter of 2019, Facebook removed a record 2.2 billion fraudulent accounts, most disabled within as little as a few minutes of being created.  The number of fake accounts is only slightly less than the reported 2.4 billion valid monthly active users and the majority of the false accounts were never considered active by Facebook’s metrics.  Many of the removed accounts are attributed to spammers who are continuously attempting to circumvent Facebook’s increased privacy security.

The increasing attempts to create large quantities of automated fake accounts simultaneously further exemplifies the magnitude of this ongoing problem.  While Facebook is diligently working to foster a safe user environment, this information shows that the problem has a broad reach. In the report, CEO Mark Zuckerberg stressed the company’s plans to increase resources and spending for online security including a combination of artificial intelligence and human monitoring, adding to its arsenal of defense.

While Facebook continues to seek ways to create a safe environment for users, it seems they face hurdles at every turn, including its own policies. The pending increased encryption the company plans to implement for additional privacy could make it more difficult to detect fraudulent accounts. Zuckerberg acknowledged the increased encryption security comes with trade-offs, but promises to make online privacy an ongoing focus of the company.

It’s evident that the company is tackling fraud head on with no intention of backing down.  However, this issue is far from resolved and will remain at the forefront of conversation for Facebook for the immediate future.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/the-amount-of-fake-accounts-removed-from-facebook-this-year-nearly-equals-its-number-of-total-active-users/

Google Indexing Gets Mobile Optimized

Google officially announced they will be utilizing mobile-first indexing as default for all new web domains starting July 1, 2019. The switch has been in the works since 2016, with testing since leading up to the announcement this week.  Google will use its webcrawler, Googlebot, which simulates a user on a mobile device, to confirm a site is mobile optimized for its indexing process. Existing sites will be monitored as well but that process will have an extended timeline.

With the number of mobile users worldwide expected to surpass 5 billion this year and over 72% of internet users projected to be solely on smartphones by 2025, enforcing mobile optimization is a natural progression for both Google and websites. To help assist with the transition, Google has dedicated a guide with instructions and resources to better explain the process.

The emphasis of a mobile-friendly experience, both with indexing and mobile site optimization, shows Google’s priority to focus on users. As online behaviors shift, the company continues to remain a leader of change and innovation.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/05/28/google-makes-mobile-first-indexing-the-default-for-all-new-domains/

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Google Is Changing How People See Search

Online shopping typically begins with a search bar and a product description.  Despite increased ease, it still poses its challenges. You can find yourself scrolling through pages of results if your description isn’t quite right or worse, the item is no longer in stock.  To alleviate the frustration, Google has a new vision for internet shoppers.

The company highlighted its visual search capabilities this week with Google Lens, an app that allows users to search what they see, which leverages augmented reality to find products online.  While in the works for a few years, Google is placing its bets on the evolving technology to provide a more personal shopping experience.

So how does this differ?  Google brings the products to you based on scanned image through the app.  Your picture can provide details such as color, brand, model, etc. with just one image, cutting down on filtering search results.  Once you find the desired product, you get a virtual view from multiple angles, highlighting the detail. If you really want to make sure it’s a fit, you can even place the image next to items you already own through the app to complete a look.

For marketers, the shift could change search campaign implementation and structure.  While visual search gives consumers a more detailed view of products, resulting in more satisfied customers, it only works if image assets for products are available and mobile optimized.  With products changing so frequently, it could pose significant challenges, particularly for smaller brands.

While improved shopping is only the start of Google Lens capabilities, it’s clear AI and augmented reality are shaping the future and are bringing digital window shopping to your living room.  

https://adage.com/article/digital/heres-what-googles-bet-visual-search-means-advertisers/2170861

Burger King’s “Traffic Jam Whopper” Delivers

Endless traffic is not fun for anyone, but if you’re like most, a hot meal delivered to your window would make the time a little more bearable.  Seems crazy, but Burger King is making it happen with their new campaign “the Traffic Jam Whopper” that delivers orders via motorcycle right to your car.  

With a little ingenuity, Burger King seized the opportunity to feed hungry commuters while also driving brand awareness and burger sales. The promotion is highly calculated for flawless execution to deliver orders quickly and accurately.  By partnering with Waze, Burger King is able to use real time traffic data to identify highly congested areas and dynamically adjust messaging with banner ads and push notifications on the Waze app once drivers enter delivery zones. Ads then lead users to utilize voice commands on the Burger King app to place their orders. Once ready for delivery, drivers rely on Google Maps API to pinpoint and locate drivers.

While the promotion was tested in Mexico City to gauge market interest, the results spoke for themselves. In just one week, the company saw app downloads increase by 44x and delivery orders spiked 63%, making the Burger King app the number one fast food app in Mexico.  

With undeniable success, Burger King plans to replicate the service in other large cities including Los Angeles, Sao Paulo and Shanghai with the potential to expand. With a little luck, the “Traffic Jam Whopper” could be coming to a commute near you.

https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/burger-king-wants-to-deliver-whoppers-right-to-your-car-during-nightmarish-traffic-jams/

Facebook’s “Clear History” Causes Uncertainty for Advertisers

If you’ve ever wanted to erase your past, at least on social media, Facebook is giving you the opportunity.  The company announced this week they would be rolling out a new “Clear History” feature in response to their commitment to protecting personal information. Users will now be able to disconnect browsing history that is used for targeting and advertising purposes.  While this is an effort to foster online privacy, it could have a substantial impact the user experience based on limited knowledge of user behavior and interests.

As for advertisers, this creates concerns with targeting capabilities and campaign set-up strategies.  Data utilized from Facebook Pixels and Custom Audiences could become severely limited as their targeting ability is primarily based on user’s activity outside on other sites then leveraged once users return to Facebook.  Uncertainty remains as to how this will effect advertising opportunities, reporting metrics and site analytics. It’s also difficult to gauge how many users will take this action to protect their privacy versus the number that have become comfortable with the fact that very little is private in the digital space.

https://marketingland.com/facebook-warns-advertisers-clear-history-tool-may-impact-ad-targeting-260995

Leverage Google Shopping to Drive Holiday Results

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Ask anyone how Google Shopping has performed in 2018, and you're likely to hear how it is dominating the retail search marketing arena. Combining Google shopping with your current digital strategy can only enhance performance in sales. With consumers spending over $19.6 billion online during the five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday in 2017, now is the time to prepare your campaign strategy for this year’s shopping season. 

How can you leverage Google Shopping? Check out a few tips to increase efficiency, gain user engagement, and boost conversions on your Google Shopping holiday campaigns.

Set Your Budget and Key Performance Indicators Early

Before doing anything else, Google recommends reviewing historic holiday campaigns and evaluating campaign performance and necessary budget adjustments. Note any days where your click share decreased but retail query volume increased, and budget more for those days to avoid missing potential customers. Flexibility in budgeting can help your campaign survive the fluctuations in holiday shopping.

Prep Your Feed

It also helps to take some time before heading into the holiday shopping season to make sure your product feeds are looking good. Get those product photos on point, upload promotions, and fill out product attributes with as much information as possible to minimize disapprovals from the outset. Also, enable Content API, automated item updates, and automated feed deliver to keep your product pricing and availability fresh.

Plan Promotions

Holiday shoppers love getting good deals, and many shoppers are swayed to make purchases based on the promotions available. Make use of merchant promotions to highlight your special offers and to schedule price changes ahead of time. Giving shoppers plenty of special deals during the holidays can boost the amount of clicks you get and ultimately drive your conversion rate.

Don't Overlook the Omnichannel Approach

Mobile remains king when it comes to retail at any time of year. In fact, Google tells its users to "double down on mobile shopping" because of the importance of maintaining visibility on mobile devices. We think it's critical to create a seamless experience over multiple platforms. After all, omnichannel marketing using innovative tools such Adtaxi's Quantum is essential for giving consumers the experience they expect and maximizing performance during the holiday shopping season and beyond.

High Quality: Understanding the Components of Ads Quality Scores

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Google [A1] Ads is an advertising tool that lets you connect with customers at the right time, control costs, and boost campaign performance. Even if you have never used Ads for anything other than a keyword lookup, you have probably noticed how the keywords have Quality Score ratings.

The Quality Score rating can have a big influence on how successful your Ads campaign is. It represents your ad's relevance to Google users' search queries, and Google uses it in addition to your highest cost-per-click to determine your ad rank. A higher Quality Score equates to better rankings and higher odds of landing in the top position in Google SERPs. Let's look at the following seven components of Quality Scores to understand why it matters, which is key to improving your overall score.  

Account Level

Google's [A2]  chief economist Hal Varian denies that an account level quality score exists. While it's not a metric that's available to Google users, it is a helpful category to keep in mind. The account-level score involves the history of your account and the performance of the keywords and ads you have used in the past. As a rule, accounts with stellar performance and a substantial history typically outperform new or poor-performing accounts. Improving on this level takes time and strategic planning, so choosing the right keywords and launching consistently good ads are crucial.

Ad Group

This [A3] score type provides insight into what needs work in your campaign, so you can restructure as needed to boost your score. For example, you might have a keyword quality score of 3 in one group but an overall score of 8. This tells you exactly what to prioritize — i.e., work on the lowest score areas first, and you will begin to see a difference.

Ad Level

Each [A4] of your ads is going to have its own click-through rate, and having a large percentage of ads with a low click-through rate can drag your score down. Incorporating a few Dynamic Keyword Insertion ads into your campaign can provide an organic boost, as these ads typically appear more search-relevant, which makes them more likely to receive clicks. Keep in mind that ads with high click-through rates that aren't converting may not affect your Quality Score, but they also aren't helping your return on investment.

Keyword Level

This [A5] is the score you can see right in the Ads main interface. Your keywords are scored from one to 10, with 10 being the best score. It's based on the number of search queries that match, which indicates the relevance of the keyword. Need to boost your score? Look at the impression share data, which tells you the percentage of time ads were displayed out of the total available slots open to you. If this metric is low, you might need to boost your bids or increase your daily budget to rank higher.

Landing Page

Google [A6] wants marketers to offer high quality websites with useful, relevant content. That's why they score your landing page based on three main factors:

·      Content: Are you providing original, useful content that's relevant to your keywords and ad text?

·      Transparency: Does your website deliver what people need and clearly state what your business does, the products you offer, and what you do with any personal information customers provide?

·      Navigability: Can people easily find information? Is the page designed and organized well for mobile and computer viewing?

Display Network

Google's [A7] Display Network reaches internet users on millions of sites using a passive type of advertising. When someone's casually browsing the internet, they might come across these ads, which often contain video, animation, and images. Display networks have different bidding options, and your Quality Score is tied to your ad's performance on the site you're eligible for. Targeting ads to the most appropriate audience and sites is essential.

Mobile

In [A8] today's marketing climate, you have to be mobile-friendly — if you're not, Google will penalize you for it. The distance between your business location and the user is typically considered when Google calculates your mobile Quality Score. Other factors include loading time, navigability, and user experience.

Understanding how Google Ads calculates your Quality Scores and all the important components is key to keeping your scores high. In turn, this enhances your marketing efforts to increase your results and boost your business.  

 

 [A1]Source: https://www.seo.com/blog/why-adwords-is-important-to-your-online-success/
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/3-important-benefits-adwords-digital-marketing-shekhar-pawar
https://www.ppchero.com/ultimate-guide-to-adwords-quality-score/
 [A2]Source: https://klientboost.com/ppc/adwords-quality-score/
https://www.ppchero.com/ultimate-guide-to-adwords-quality-score/
 [A3]Source: https://www.ppchero.com/ultimate-guide-to-adwords-quality-score/
 [A4]Source: https://www.ppchero.com/ultimate-guide-to-adwords-quality-score/
 [A5]Source: https://www.ppchero.com/ultimate-guide-to-adwords-quality-score/
https://klientboost.com/ppc/adwords-quality-score/
 [A6]Source: https://www.ppchero.com/ultimate-guide-to-adwords-quality-score/
https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2404197?co=ADWORDS.IsAWNCustomer%3Dfalse&hl=en
 [A7]Source: https://searchengineland.com/3-reasons-love-google-display-network-really-220673
https://www.ppchero.com/ultimate-guide-to-adwords-quality-score/
 [A8]Source: https://searchengineland.com/quality-score-leverage-points-275327
http://www.commonmind.com/blog/top-links/importance-of-mobile-web-performance/
https://www.ppchero.com/ultimate-guide-to-adwords-quality-score/

Google's Mobile Indexing and What It Means for Your Business 

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Is your company's mobile website being easily found by potential customers on their devices? If not, it's time to make some big changes because Google is now ranking business websites based on the mobile version rather than the desktop site.

Google announced this "mobile-first" change in late March. Mobile-first means its Googlebot will crawl your company's mobile site first for search engine optimization (SEO) indexing and ranking. Historically, Google has used the desktop version of your website's content for its crawling, indexing, and ranking practices.

Why the change? Not every company is using responsive web design for its mobile site, and, according to Google, that was causing issues for mobile searchers. So Google is switching to mobile-first content gathering, and recommending to site owners to make their content mobile-friendly as fast as they can.

Remember, this is mobile-first, not mobile-only. Google will still index your desktop site content, but keep in mind you're likely to lose out against more mobile-savvy competitors. Google's change is a reflection of the immense growth of the mobile web. It's estimated there are now some 10 billion mobile-connected devices in use around the world, which is leading to big growth in the ecommerce industry. 

Let's take a look at what Google's mobile-first indexing means for your content, and what steps you need to take to stay on top of SEO development.

Understanding Mobile-First

Having mobile-friendly and fast-loading content can help your mobile search results perform better. Typically, search rankings are affected by your site's load times, mobile-friendliness factors, relevant content, low-quality visuals, and proper meta tags, among other factors. If you gain site visitors from ads you've placed, do you want those mobile visitors to visit a site that loads slowly, enables pop-ups, and isn't overly optimized for mobile? Of course not! That's why your site needs to speed up its mobile capabilities.

One way to check how well your site is performing in mobile is through Google's Search Console service. If your site is already optimized for mobile, you likely have been notified via Search Console that mobile-first indexing is enabled for your site.

How Your Site May Be Affected by Mobile-First Indexing

Your site might be affected by this indexing move to mobile-first if you haven't made the necessary changes to your site's design. Here are some of the possible ways:

●      You maintain a separate mobile site (or sites) for your company. Does your company still use highly optimized, separate mobile sites? If so, you'll need to revamp this into a unified responsive design because the content, structured data, and meta data needs will all change.

●      You do not have a mobile site yet. If this is the case, why not? It's time to hire a website designer to get your site mobile-friendly, because that's where you'll find more potential sales. If you're unsure of what to do, use this free Google tool to check your site's mobile-friendliness factor. 

What It Means for Advertisers

Advertisers should pay close attention to becoming mobile-first. If you're offering a poor mobile user experience, you'll lose conversions and your bounce rates will soar. That could lead to a much lower pay-per-click (PPC) ad quality score, and higher cost per click (CPC). Ad budgets will shrink. Over time, all of these costs will accumulate, leading to higher costs per acquisition. That has a serious impact on leads and sales, and can put your business out of business.

So it's time to make changes. Try testing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for your site. This will help your site's indexing. Also, try using AMP ads. They load faster, and can lead to a better user experience and higher click-through rates for advertisers. Getting a more responsive design for your site will help you join the mobile revolution.

Google Analytics 301: Evaluating Ad Performance

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You've integrated Google Analytics and AdWords, and created a few conversion goals. Now what? Let your data do the work of evaluating ad performance by defining and monitoring conversion success.

Defining Success With Google Analytics Goal Conversions

The success of your goal conversion data will be based on its relevance to both business and marketing metrics. Learning what drives engaged visitors and leads to sales is essential for understanding which elements of an ad campaign worked well.

Fine-tune your Google Analytics goals to display just the data relevant to marketing decision-making. Whether it's click-through rates, impression counts, or destination tracking, setting the correct goal is the basis of evaluating your ad performance.

Monitoring Conversion Tracking With AdWords

To view the conversion rates for the goals you've created, sign into your Google Analytics account and navigate to the Conversions menu, then the Goals menu, and finally click Overview.

The Overview page provides a dashboard summary of key performance indicators, including the total number of goal completions over time (by hour, day, week, or month). If you've set up monetary values for your goals, this information is also available within the dashboard, along with conversion and abandonment rates. The most relevant data will come from your custom goals, where completion data can be imported into AdWords.

To import your goal conversions into AdWords, log into your AdWords account, then click the Tools tab and select Conversions. Click Google Analytics in the left-hand menu, and check the boxes next to the goals you'd like to import. Click Continue, select the overall settings, then click Import Goals.

AdWords will correlate your site engagement metrics alongside your AdWords performance stats to show the full customer cycle, from the initial marketing interaction to full goal conversion. Look for graphical representations of data that include bounce rates, session durations, pages per session, and the percentage of first-time sessions to show how efficiently your campaigns are performing.

Using Google Analytics Reports to Gain Marketing Insight

With data pulled from both your Analytics and AdWords accounts, the Google Analytics Reports function offers a wealth of marketing insight with just a few clicks. Create your own customized reports using the abundant choices in the Customization menu, or choose from five preconfigured reporting categories for easy user insights:

  • Real-time reports: Monitor user activity as it happens on your website with real-time user location data, traffic sources, and conversions.
  • Audience reports: Analyze your audience with demographic data, affinity categories, in-market segments, and engagement data.
  • Acquisition reports: View acquisition data from all traffic, social, campaigns, and AdWords, including detailed AdWords reports analyzing clicks, cost, CPC, bidding, keywords, and search queries.
  • Behavior reports: Observe user behavior flows, view average page loading times and speed suggestions, track events, and manage events flow.
  • Conversions reports: Access goal conversion data with reverse goal paths, funnel visualization, goal flow charts, Ecommerce behavior, sales performance, multi-channel funnels, and attribution models.

Google Analytics provides easy access to your site engagement metrics, and world-class data analysis tools to assist digital marketers in evaluating ad performance.

Google Analytics 101: The Basics

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As the most widely used web analytics service on the internet, Google Analytics offers website marketers world-class traffic analysis tools at no cost. While enterprise users may wish to upgrade to the fee-based Analytics 360, the standard Google Analytics service offers plenty of tools to help marketers optimize website usage.

Uncovering Essential User Data With Google Analytics

The Analytics dashboard allows for a fast comparison of page views and users over time, high-traffic times of day, page popularity, and user retention. You can drill down a bit deeper to find information about how your users access your website (via desktop, mobile, or tablet), where your users are located (by country, state, or city), and where your traffic comes from (direct, organic search, referrers, or social).

Advanced users can access goal performance metrics, AdWords campaign performance comparisons, and data for ecommerce websites to identify top-selling products. With easily customizable views, the Google Analytics dashboard can display real-time trends for campaign monitoring.

Using Google Analytics to Reach Conversion Goals

With easy AdWords integration, the Google Analytics platform allows you to see the full customer cycle, from the initial marketing interaction to full goal conversion. By collecting data from your existing AdWords account, Google Analytics Reports can produce detailed information about your website's:

  • Audience: Evaluate demographics, interests, and benchmarking.
  • Acquisition: Make a detailed AdWords campaign, social sharing, and keyword comparisons.
  • Behavior: Examine site content, page views, and speed data.
  • Conversions: Initiate goal tracking, monitor ecommerce conversions, and identify multi-channel funnels and attribution.
  •  

Getting Started With Google Analytics

Once you've created an account at google.com/analytics, you'll need to set up a property, or collection point, for your website. On the Admin page, choose the Property column, then select Create New Property. Once you've entered your website basics, click Get Tracking ID.

Your Google Analytics Tracking ID and its tracking code snippet will need to be copied into the code of each webpage you want to track. Once it's added, you'll immediately be able to see Analytics data in your dashboard.

For deep content integration, consider using Google Tag Manager to unlock even more Analytics features. This dynamic tagging system allows you to update page tags directly from Google Tag Manager rather than having to edit your website's code.

Integrating Analytics With AdWords

Link your AdWords account to your Google Analytics dashboard to see data related to acquisition, behavior, and conversions for each AdWords campaign. First, create an AdWords account at google.com/adwords. Within the "Billing, Account Setting, and Help" menu, select Linked Accounts. Under the "Google Analytics" heading, click View Details.

This menu will show a list of websites for which you have linking access. Select Set Up Link next to the property you'd like to link. Next, choose the Link setting to make AdWords click-and-cost data available in Analytics, and Analytics transactions and goals available in AdWords. Click Save to complete your changes.

For detailed information on setting and tracking goals, as well as evaluating ad performance, continue following our Google Analytics series.

Meet Your Match: Using AdWords' Customer Match to Reach New Audiences

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Every brand wants to put their advertisement in front of interested customers. Now, Google just made that easier. With a new targeting took, Customer Match, gives brands the ability to target specific customers based on a list of customer email addresses, phone numbers or addresses that you upload.

How AdWords' Customer Match Works

When you share your data with Google, it can target the specific contacts you uploaded or look for similar customers to show your ads to.

Why are people so excited about this? It gives brands the ability to put ads in front customers that are likely interested in your product. That means these ads will be cost effective as they target the right customers immediately.

You will have to follow a few rules though. Adwords' Customer Match requires that any customer data you upload be collected through first-party context, so it's vital that your customer information is collected directly from your physical store, website, app, or other direct-contact means.

Using AdWords' Customer Match for Specific Campaigns

Some campaigns will be better suited for specific Google channels.

Targeting holiday shoppers with product demos would fare well on YouTube, while retargeting inactive app users might best be done through Gmail ads. Potential customers who aren't even aware your product or service exists may become customers after seeing your ad on Google Search offering the perfect solution to the problem they're Googling.

Likewise, cost-comparing shoppers can be reached on Google Shopping looking for the best deal before stumbling upon your ad offering free shipping or a low-price guarantee. When choosing channels, the key is to think like your customer.

Whether you're looking to boost sales or just increase brand awareness, AdWords' Customer Match feature can expand your advertising reach though hyper-targeted channels. Marketers are constantly looking to create a 1:1 customer experience and these targeted ads should help achieve that goal.

Google Ad Blocker To Reduce Low-Quality Ads

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In mid-February, Google launched an ad blocker in its Chrome browser that would block certain low-quality ads like flashing ads, pop-up ads, large animated ads, and others from appearing on websites. It’s part of Google’s effort to help lead the ad industry’s overall mission to encourage a more favorable online advertising experience for web users. And with good reason - web advertisers lose anywhere from 5%-15% of online revenues when consumers use ad blockers to block out advertising. The move is aimed squarely at removing low-quality ads that don’t conform to the ad standards laid out by the Coalition for Better Ads, a non-profit industry group that is seeking compliance around industry standards for quality online advertising. Google is a member of the Coalition.

Here are the types of ads in each format that the Coalition deems as low-quality, and Google will block in Chrome:

Desktop Web Experiences:

  • Large Sticky Ads
  • Autoplaying Video Ads with Sound
  • Pop-up Ads
  • Prestitial Ads with Countdown

Mobile Web Experiences:

  • Pop-up Ads
  • Prestitial Ads
  • Flashing Animated Ads
  • Autoplaying Video Ads with Sound
  • Postitial Ads with Countdown
  • Full-screen Scroll-over Ads
  • Large Sticky Ads

Early Ad Blocker Impact

Advertisers (and publishers) at first were surprised by the move. But on closer inspection, the impact appears to be minimal and not a huge challenge to fix. As Adweek noted, publishers who try to serve up any one of the low-quality ads will be placed in a ‘failed status’ for up to 30 days, while the publisher reworks the ads to meet the standards. However, these numbers will likely be minimal.

Early data from Axios shows that roughly 1% of publishers have reached this ‘failing’ status, and from those that did, nearly half have already fixed the issue to become compliant. Clearly, this indicates that ensuring compliance with low-quality ads will not be a major challenge.

What about Publishers?

More often than not, publishers pay the price for the low-quality ads instead of the advertiser. When you browse a publisher’s site and get served an animated or flashing pop-up ad or similar, you can enable ad blocking for that site. But that hurts the publisher more than the advertiser, so many publishers are now using tactics to ask readers to turn off ad blockers in order to view content.

It’s All About the Online Experience

Advertising is a key part of any web user’s online experience and it’s incumbent on the industry to serve ads wisely and purposefully. Doing this can add value to the user experience. With a better overall ad environment, users will be less apt to install ad blockers, and more inclined to engage with brands.

This initiative should lower irritability among web users regarding ads, while improving brand loyalty and time on sites. That would be a win for the online ad industry. The long-term hope is that publishers’ ad revenues will rise in a better quality environment, and users’ perception of online advertising will rise accordingly as well.

What’s Ahead?

Some online advertising industry thinkers are already thinking ahead. One suggestion is a type of automated ad compliance system, for a real-time alert or notification to be sent to the ad network and the publisher for when a low-quality ad is served up. Upon receiving the alert, they can work to correct the ad quality issue, and avoid ad blocking experiences.

In an ideal online world, Google wants to participate in providing a high-quality, online advertising experience for consumers. That would be a world that doesn’t have ads that interrupt, distract or clutter a user experience. We may still get there yet.