Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Google launches Remarketing tool

The Google AdWords blog has announced the introduction of 'interest-based advertising' which has now been released from beta testing. Called 'remarketing', this is a new feature for AdWords advertisers who are using the content network and enables advertisers to present their sales messages to previous visitors to their website.

Google claims that the testing period with selected advertisers has proved very successful and the concept allows companies to display tailored ads on sites throughout the Google content network to web users that have previously visited the site from an AdWords link. This is similar to behavioural targeting so that previous activity can be used to target new offers through text, display or video adverts.

Google provides an example of how this might work for an advertiser, such as a basketball team with tickets to sell. By putting a piece of code on the tickets page of their website, this will let them later show relevant ticket ads (such as last minute discounts) to everyone who has visited that page, as they subsequently browse sites in the Google Content Network. Several remarketing campaigns could also be run at the same time. For example, the company could offer discount game tickets to users who’ve previously visited the tickets page, advertise VIP hospitality packages to users who clicked on a “How to get to the arena” page, and advertise a sale on team merchandise to users who previously visited a YouTube brand channel.

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Friday, 26 March 2010

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Thursday, 25 March 2010

Google provides more data on AdWords conversions

The Google AdWords blog has announced a new reporting feature for the conversion tracking function, allowing advertisers to gain a greater insight into the behaviour of searches prior to the point of conversion. Called AdWords Search Funnels, this new range of reports is gradually being rolled out to advertiser accounts and can be accessed from the Conversions section of the Reports menu.

Currently, the conversions that are tracked in AdWords - such as sales, contact enquiries, newsletter sign-ups etc - are attributed to the last advert and keyword someone clicks before making a conversion. As online advertisers are now trying to identify the 'attribution' of a conversion over a possible series of previous actions through a search engine or website, the existing conversion data is limited since it hides the fact that many customers perform multiple searches before finally converting.

The new AdWords Search Funnels should help advertisers to see the full picture by giving them a better insight into the ads their customers have interacted with during their shopping process. This is done through a new set of reports that describe the ad click and impression behaviour on Google that leads up to a conversion. In addition to the existing Top Conversions report, the Search Funnels reporting area consist of 7 reports including Assisted Conversions, First and Last Click Analysis, Time Lag, and Path Length.

The reports mirror the layout of Google Analytics, although AdWords advertisers don't have to use Analytics to view this data. By showing which ads customers clicked on before ultimately converting, Search Funnels give advertisers a more complete picture of the value of their keywords, ad groups and campaigns. The blog post provides a typical example of how this might work for a hypothetical company using AdWords.

This is a significant development by Google AdWords and extremely beneficial to advertisers to enable them to understand their conversion process more accurately. It also lays down a challenge to Yahoo!/Bing with their PPC service, to match this sort of tracking and reporting in their current systems and the new ones they are likely to be developing together.

NB: Search Funnel data is currently limited to search ads showing on Google.com, for ad impressions and clicks within 30 days of the conversion. However, this is likely to be expanded to all advertisers and versions of Google in the future once the reporting service comes out of beta.

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Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Google removes censoring from China search

As widely reported in the global press (including the BBC), the Google-China story has taken a further step forward with Google announcing that they will stop the censoring of their search results in China, which had previously been a part of their agreement with the Chinese government to operate in that market. This move goes against the authorities warnings of repercussions, should such a move be implemented.

In recent months, Google had complained about a "sophisticated cyber attack originating from China" which mostly affected their Gmail service and appeared to target Chinese dissidents. After talks between the search engine and Chinese authorities, it would appear that no solution has been found and so Google has taken this step to challenge their position with China.

The company is now redirecting all visits to its Chinese version of the search engine to their Hong Kong service, which is not subject to the same censorship controls. They say that this will slow down the speed of the search engine slightly, but it comes as an open challenge to China, and it remains to be seen what the government will decide to do. Officials had warned Google repeatedly that it would face consequences if it did not comply with the country's censorship rules.

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Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Online advertising sees further growth in 2009

Recent figures published by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) in Australia show that the online advertising sector continued to buck the trend seen by the wider advertising market and recorded further healthy growth in 2009, with a 9% year-on-year increase to reach $1.87bn to the end of December.

The results from the quarterly Online Advertising Expenditure Report (OAER), compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), also showed that for the three months ended 31 December 2009, the total expenditure was $513m - the largest fourth-quarter recorded and an increase of $50.5m, or 10.9% from the fourth-quarter of 2008.

The IAB says that the continued growth of online advertising expenditure comes at a time when the industry is expecting a decline of up to $900m in the Australian advertising marketplace for 2009 due to the impact of the global financial crisis.

The general display advertising and search sectors both performed well for the full year, with search and directories advertising accounting for just short of $1bn or 50.5% of total expenditure, representing a growth of 17% year on year. Display advertising grew by 7.2% and accounted for almost $500m or 26.6% of the total expenditure for the 12 months. Classified advertising continued to lose share and saw a slight decline of 2.3% year on year, accounting for 22.9% of total expenditure for the year.

Within the general display figures, email based advertising comprised $9.3m of advertising expenditure for the last quarter, up from $7.9m in the previous quarter. Video based advertising increased its share of advertising expenditure from $4.7m to $5.3m for the same period.

Little change was reported in the pricing methods for online advertising expenditure, with the Direct Response pricing method comprising 26% in General Display advertising and CPM 74%. CPM pricing is based on a straight Cost per Thousand pricing methodology, sponsorship, or CPM-like Pricing, while direct response based pricing is based on a non-CPM display methodology. This may include any pay per click, pay per sale, pay per action or pay per lead.

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Monday, 15 March 2010

Display adverts more effective in Europe

Some new research published by comScore shows that display advertising appears to be more effective at influencing users' online behavior in Europe than in the US. A summary of the study has been published by ClickZ, and reports that display ads in the U.K. and Europe drove substantially more traffic to advertisers' sites and promoted a greater number of trademark search queries than in the US.

The comScore study suggests that users in Europe are 72% more likely to visit an advertiser's website, having previously been exposed to display ads, compared with a 49% lift in the US. The research also found that European users are 94% more likely to conduct a search query on an advertiser trademark after seeing an ad, compared to 40% being more likely to do so in the US.

The results seem to show a good level of impact in both markets, despite the decline in clickthrough rates from this form of advertising. comScore suggest that the differences in behaviour could be the result of lower average levels of exposure to online adverts in Europe, compared to the US, which helps drive higher response levels. Also search activity is higher in the UK, meaning that driving users to search could be easier. There is also some evidence that creativity in Europe, and in particular by UK advertisers, means that awareness and clickthrough rates can be higher.

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Friday, 12 March 2010

Managing multi-regional websites

The Google Webmaster blog has posted an article about managing multi-regional websites. This covers many of the questions often raised by international companies who have developed, or want to develop, different country versions of their website, including in different languages. There can be a number of issues that need to be considered in these cases, including domain name structure, duplicated content and of course maintaining and updating content efficiently.

The Google post is a brief introduction to some of these issues and reviews the main issues to consider in planning the domain structure as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. It reviews the geotargeting factors and how this can affect the visibility of websites on Google's regional results, as well as the best ways to deal with duplicate content.

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Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Pandora and online business survival

The New York Times reports on the case of Pandora, the Internet radio station that has survived over 10 years of setbacks and barriers to grow the online business to the successful position it now holds. Having struggled to find investors, battling record labels over royalties and losing a large audience outside of the US due to publishing restrictions, Pandora is now attracting interest from investors and is considering to move to a public company status.

The article outlines the stages that Pandora has gone through to now be a profitable company with a bright future. It says that Pandora's success can be credited to perseverance and adaptability in the changing online market, with the support of an intensely loyal user base and a willingness to shift directions when it faced difficult times, changing from a business to consumer model, from subscription to free, and from computer to mobile (taking advantage of an iPhone app to stream Internet music to users).

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Friday, 5 March 2010

Google adds new function for brand advertisers

The Google AdWords blog has announced a new feature to help brand advertisers who use the AdWords content network. Although most AdWords campaigns are aimed at achieving a direct response from the advertising, brand advertisers tend to use display ad formats to raise awareness and purchase consideration for a product or service a person might buy at a later date (or often a combination of the two).

Google has now added a new feature which filters out "below the fold" inventory - that is, ads that might be served up onto a webpage, but are not actually seen by the user if they don't scroll down the page far enough to see the advert. This will enable brand advertisers to be more selective about where ads appear as the filter allows them to choose to show ads only in places that appear on the user's screen when the page loads, without requiring them to scroll down.

Google's blog says that with a host of different web browsers, monitor sizes, and screen resolutions, it's hard for advertisers to predict where an ad will land, since the same placement may appear differently on each user's screen. Therefore to simplify the process, Google has implemented a statistically driven solution to determine which ads are above and below the fold. This statistically driven model only considers ads "above the fold" if they are completely on-screen when the browser window loads.

This is an interesting development and one that should help brand advertisers monitor and control their advert performance and to get a better understanding of how well these work across different sites on the content network.

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Thursday, 4 March 2010

Google requesting link spam reports

Google's Matt Cutts has posted a request on his blog asking for web users to submit link spam reports on websites that appear to be using 'spammy links'. The option to submit information about spam sites has been available for some years, but it appears that Google is now making a special effort to catch up, or get ahead, of the type of link spam techniques being used (such as paid links that pass PageRank, blog spammers, guestbook spammers), and so they want to combine manual reports with the new algorithms he says they are developing.

This request is likely to generate lots of submissions from website marketers that want to try to penalise websites that might be ranking ahead of them, although hopefully Google will mostly receive genuine submissions from users who know what they are looking for and will contribute to a 'clean up' of the search results!

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Monday, 1 March 2010

Web marketing newsletter published for March

The latest issue of the monthly Web Search & Marketing newsletter has been published for February, covering some of the recent stories on web search and online marketing trends.

This month's edition covers some more Google products, as it looks at some recent releases of services and new features. Firstly, there is a review of Google's click-to-call phone numbers, which allow advertisers to target users of Internet smartphones and so this creates new opportunities for AdWords advertisers.

This edition also looks at Google's new social networking service called "Buzz", which was launched in February but raised privacy concerns with the way it was introduced. Finally, the newsletter considers what a good month it has been for Microsoft, with the search alliance with Yahoo! being given the go-ahead, as well as the launch of its ambitious new mobile phone platform.

If you want to sign up for future issues of this newsletter, please do so by using the form at the bottom of this page. To view back issues of this regular newsletter you can see the archive by date or by subject.

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