Fush And Clicks

A Blog On All Things Digital (And Not).

Data: Only 5 Percent Of Search Advertisers Follow Mobile Best Practices

Originally posted on Search Engine Land

 

Google has been pumping out research and speaking at industry trade shows trying to educate advertisers and agencies about the growing importance of mobile in the consumer path to purchase. One of the “best practices” advocated by Google, as well as those experienced with mobile paid search, is to separate PC and mobile campaigns.

However new data from Wordstream indicate this is only happening in about 5 percent of cases.

Wordstream founder and CTO Larry Kim looked at the company’s huge trove of data and determined that 55 percent of paid-search campaigns target mobile devices. Given that inclusion in mobile paid search results is Google’s default setting, Kim told me this means “Just under half of advertisers opt out of mobile search in their campaign settings.”

Call Extensions Not Used But Mobile Consumers Want to Call

Kim also said that “less than 5 percent” of advertisers use phone extensions in mobile search campaigns. He was unable to give me a specific figure for location extensions, however.

Consider that recently published Google-sponsored research found that one of the top two things that people want to be able to do after a mobile-commercial search or lookup is call a business. Thus the failure to utilize phone extensions is a missed opportunity.

Bad Mobile Experiences Harm Brands

According to that same study, negative mobile experiences with websites (and presumably paid-search landing pages) can not only result in lost sales but actively harm the perception of a brand and its reputation:

  • 96 percent of users have visited a site that wasn’t mobile-friendly
  • 74 percent say they’re more likely to revisit mobile-friendly sites
  • 55 percent say a frustrating mobile experience hurts opinion of the brand

Speaking recently with Dave Schwartz of DataPop, he told me that “Mobile search campaigns need to be managed in a much different way than PC campaigns and even than tablets.” He said that keywords and ad creative must be treated differently — precisely the opposite of what’s happening now according to the Wordstream findings.

Marketers Not Valuing Mobile Clicks Properly

Part of the reason that CPCs were lower in Q3 for Google was some shifting of search volumes from PC to mobile. Here’s what Google said in its 10Q filing:

Mobile search queries and mobile commerce are growing dramatically around the world, and consumers are using multiple devices to access information. Over time these trends have resulted in changes in our product mix, including a significant increase in mobile search queries and a deceleration in the growth of desktop queries … 

Also, the margins on advertising revenues from mobile devices and other newer advertising formats are generally lower than those from desktop computers and tablets. We expect this trend to continue in the near future and that it will continue to pressure our margins, particularly if we fail to realize the opportunities we anticipate with the transition to a dynamic multi-screen environment.

According to DataPop’s Schwartz, mobile CPCs are lower than on the PC because marketers are tracking the wrong things and operating under “a set of wrong assumptions about mobile behavior.”

Schwartz explains that “Fewer marketers can connect a transaction to a mobile click, so their [perceived] conversion rates are lower and they’re not willing to pay as much for mobile clicks.” Because most marketers are using the “same automated bid engine and economic evaluation,” according to Schwartz, “these [mobile] clicks appear to be worth less.”

Marketers Can’t Track Most Mobile Conversions

Take a look at the following data from Marin Software on mobile CTRs and conversions: clicks are higher but conversions (on smartphones) are quite a bit lower than on the PC. This is largely a function of the fact that a majority of smartphone owners don’t engage in e-commerce on their mobile devices. Instead they convert offline or later on a PC, which are generally not tracked.

The upshot of all this is that consumers increasingly rely on smartphones for shopping and product research before purchasing. However marketers are not correctly or adequately responding to that consumer behavior. Indeed, most of them are probably not even aware of the extent to which they’re missing the boat.

Right now, mobile paid search is very much like desktop search in the early days. There’s less competition and cost than on the PC. However marketers must expand their definitions of “ROI” and track a much broader range of activities to get true visibility on the efficacy of mobile paid search.

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Google AdWords Policies Crack Down on the Use of DKI & ‘Buy’ in Ads

Originally posted on Search Engine Watch

Google updated its AdWords policies last week. One of these policies refers to the use of dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) in paid search ads. Specifically:

“Ads using keyword insertion must be grammatically and logically correct, and result in meaningful ad text for the user.”

google-adwords-policy-updateThis appears to be a significant shift in Google’s policies. Previously, Google policies didn’t specifically call out keyword insertion, and they only prohibited “extremely bad grammar” within ads.

We don’t yet know how strictly Google will enforce this new policy, and the definition of “meaningful ad text for the user” leaves plenty of room for subjectivity. We do know, however, that Google is proactively notifying advertisers that some (or many) of their ads will be deactivated because of this new policy.

Historically, many paid search advertisers have employed DKI liberally throughout their paid search ads. These advertisers will now need to revise a significant number of their paid search ads in order to comply with Google’s new policy.

Search engine marketers (SEMs) will need to review their keywords and:

  • Tag all grammatically incorrect keywords as not eligible for DKI. Grammatically incorrect keywords should not be used in ads that utilize DKI.
  • Tag all misspelled keywords as not eligible for DKI. Misspelled keywords should not be used in ads that utilize DKI.
  • Flag all keywords that contain slang. It’s unclear if Google’s new policy will recognize slang as being grammatically correct or incorrect. Advertisers should monitor slang containing keywords.
  • Tag all remaining DKI-eligible keywords as either singular or plural.

SEMs will then need to review their ads and:

  • Identify all ads that employ DKI.
  • Write both singular and plural versions of ads with DKI.
  • Create logic that ensures subject/verb agreement, matching singular keywords with singular DKI ads and plural keywords with plural DKI ads.
  • Write targeted, non-DKI ads for all keywords that are not eligible for DKI.
  • As a fall-back, use generic ads that are grammatically correct, but the ads may or may not as targeted/relevant.

This is a very important – and, depending on how heavily DKI is used, a very large – task for many major paid search advertisers. SEMs will either need to dedicate a lot of hours to developing new ad strategies and writing new ads, and/or invest in technology that can help them automatically compose relevant, grammatically correct ads.

Additionally, Google is requiring that “ads that lead to a search results page must clearly indicate that the landing page will provide a search experience.” For all ads that link to an advertiser’s search results page, if the ad has the word “Buy” (or the functional equivalent) in it, it must be replaced with “Search” (or the functional equivalent of). SEMs will need to determine which ads/URLs link to search results pages and replace “Buy” with “Search” accordingly.

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Google Adding Explanations to Knowledge Graph

Originally posted on Search Engine Watch

Google is adding explanations to Knowledge Graph panels, where applicable. The explanations, which appear when a user hovers over images in the “People also search for” section, offer more information on how two subjects are connected.

In the product announcement, Google uses the movie “Gone With the Wind” as an example. Hovering over icons people also search for, in this case “The Wizard of Oz”, displays an explanation that Victor Fleming directed both movies.

gone-with-wind-expanded-google-knowledge-graph

It can also be used to indicate familiar or professional associations, as in the case of a search for actress Sandra Bullock. Keanu Reeves appears in the “People also search for” section of theKnowledge Graph panel for Sandra Bullock. Google now explains, “Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves both appear in The Lake House and Speed.”

“We’re starting by showing major co-starring roles between actors, movies, and TV shows as well as highlighting family connections amongst famous people in the Knowledge Graph,” Google engineer Golan Pundak explained on the Inside Search Blog. “These connections won’t show up all the time, but when there is an interesting explanation available, you can now see it at a glance.”

When Google launched Knowledge Graph in May, Engineering SVP Amit Singhal described the “People also search for” feature as “magical,” crediting this feature for some of his “most serendipitous discoveries.”

Knowledge Graph is part of Google’s mission to provide the information searchers seek on the SERPs page, or as close to it as possible.

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Google Launches Remarketing in Search in Beta

Originally posted on Search Engine Watch

 

Remarketing is now an established tactic leveraged by many (if not all) digital marketers trying to maximize conversion activity. Retargeting, in its simplest form, is the practice of delivering display advertisements to users who have visited owned content in the past, in order to get them to come back and take action.

Retargeting on its own has many layers of complexity, including, determining which pages to track and which to exclude, developing relevant “cookie pools” against the tracked pages, and what creative messaging to deliver to each cookie pool.

However, one constant is that remarketing has always been managed in the realm of display media, and we couldn’t target previous visitors within the SERP landscape with a paid listing ad. That’s changing. This change, along with the phase out of Google Product Search in favor ofProduct Listing Ads could alter the SEM landscape as we know it.

Google has recently announced a beta program called Remarketing in Search, which aims to take the benefits of remarketing and leverage them within the SERP environment. The idea is simple: create remarketing lists as you do with display, but leverage this customer knowledge to impact you’re messaging and bidding strategy within your SEM campaigns to improve performance.

The benefits to leveraging remarketing within search are straightforward and include:

  • Maximizing relevant ad copy. If you know a user has been looking for “red shoes” on your site, use that information to stand out among your competition in the SERP when the user next searches on “women’s shoe stores.” By applying your knowledge of what the user has been looking for, you can likely increase your CTR and drive visits, while increasing your quality score.
  • Value of the customer and associated click value. A user who is familiar with your brand is more likely to convert to a buyer and as such, being able to reach known users within the SERP should impact your bidding strategy. Just like you can increase your CPCs on keywords that convert better to maximize potential, now you increase your CPCs on known customers to maximize potential.
  • Landing Page Selection. Knowing the content the user has visited can impact the landing page your search ads link to. In the above “red shoes” example, the standard landing page for “women’s shoe stores” may be your homepage, or a store listings page. However, knowing the user is interested in red shoes, and with “red shoes” in your ad copy, you can land the user back to your red shoes page. You are in effect, creating personalized landing page relevancy based on the user’s history.

While exciting and definitely worth testing, there are a few standards that need to be managed in order to leverage the opportunity:

  • Clients must use Google remarketing pixels to create the cookie pools associated with retargeting.
  • Unique campaigns must be built separate from existing search campaigns. While seemingly straightforward, this creates a competitive landscape whereby your remarketing campaign will compete for visibility with your standard campaign. As we understand it, “normal quality score rules” will determine which campaign (and associated bid) is triggered by each unique search query. Knowing that your remarketing campaign won’t have any history behind it, expect to manage your bids accordingly in order to ensure visibility.
  • Ad copy cannot expressly call out that you know what the user is looking for. Using the same “red shoes” example, while you can leverage “red shoes” in your copy, you can’t specifically call out “looking for red shoes?” There’s a fine line that we as marketers must keep in mind. It will be interesting to see how Google polices this aspect moving forward.

Remarketing is a tried and true tactic for increasing performance. Paid search is a highly effective and efficient marketing channel. Google is leading the charge to combine both in so we, as marketers, can reach the best users, right when they are most interested in acting.

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Google AdWords Enhanced Sitelinks Rolling Out Globally: How to Set Them Up

 

Originally posted on Search Engine Watch

enhanced-adwords-sitelinks

Google has announced that sitelinks on desktop search ads, first introduced in February this year, are now rolling out to users in all countries where AdWords is available.

The sitelinks extension allows advertisers to show links to various pages within the website below their ad text. In early testing, Google claimed ads with sitelinks saw an average of 30 percent higher CTRs.

Advertisers can create up to ten sitelinks when selecting campaign settings, from the Ad extensions tab. There is a checkbox in the settings to activate the feature, which says, “Sitelinks: Extend my ads with links to sections of my site.”

extend-sitelinks-box

Ads may show two, four, or six sitelinks in addition to the site URL. Ads displayed on mobile phones can show up to two sitelinks, maximum.

Each link should have a unique landing page and there should be one ad to match each sitelink, at a “bare minimum,” according to Google.

Advertisers must delete the “http” when entering page URLs in order for the sitelinks to work. The order in which links are entered does factor into how often a sitelink will appear in an ad.

sitelinks-enter-links

Google recommends keeping sitelink text “short and sweet,” to increase the amount of links they can show in each ad.

Enhanced sitelinks will only show in ads above the top organic search results, not in the sidebar. Advertisers struggling to reach the top ad position can try to improve their Quality Score or increase their max bid to increase the likelihood their enhanced sitelinks will appear.

In the announcement, Senior AdWords Engineer Pramod Adiddam warns, “Like other forms of sitelinks, enhanced sitelinks are generated automatically so they might vary in appearance. And you might not see them show 100% of the time even when you’re eligible.”

Are you using enhanced sitelinks in your campaigns? Let us know what experience you’ve had with them!

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Google Search Results: From 10 To 7 To 4?

Originally posted on Search Engine Roundtable. 

A couple weeks ago, we reported Google is showing only seven search results when the search query is specific enough to warrant less results.

To my surprise, it seems like Google is cutting that number to only show four search results!

Yes, a WebmasterWorld thread has one searcher noticing for search results that return sitelinks, instead of showing seven results, it is now showing only four results.

This seems to be a test, I cannot replicate the test myself but the screen captures seem legit.

four Google results

As you can see, Google took this down from ten, which came down from seven and now is only showing four results.

I am not sure if Google has serious intentions of only showing four search results on a page or not, but they seem to be testing it.

The WebmasterWorld thread has one more picture as well.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Google TV Ads Cancelled

Following a four-year effort in the incredibly lucrative TV ad business, Google has decided to pull the plug. Traditional TV ads are out – going forward Google plans to focus exclusively on digital.

Google has now tried and failed to disrupt the traditional advertising business in print, radio and television. In part, Google’s TV effort was slow to attract new advertisers and more partners to the platform.

“Video is increasingly going digital and users are now watching across numerous devices. So we’ve made the hard decision to close our TV Ads product over the next few months,” Shishir Mehrotra, VP of product at YouTube and video at Google, wrote in a blog post. “We’ll be doubling down on video solutions for our clients (like YouTube, AdWords for Video, and ad serving tools for web video publishers). We also see opportunities to help users access web content on their TV screens, through products like Google TV.”

“The [satellite] and cable operators have excess unsold inventory so it was partially an experiment,” said Derek Baine, senior analyst at SNL Kagan. But Google had a much bigger target than just TV ad sales – it wanted to compete with Nielsen on ratings.

Google tried to convince cable and satellite operators to license their set-top box data so it could compete with Nielsen, he said.

“They were just begging to get more data in the database. In the long run that would be a lot more valuable company than one just selling ad inventory. So I think it is a bigger deal.”

While smaller TV networks were more open to giving Google a shot, most continued to rely on Nielsen as the gold standard.

“Nielsen’s got a stranglehold on the industry, there’s no question about that,” said Baine. “It seems like there’s got to be a change. All of the set-top box data exists. It’s out there, it’s just going to take an intermediary to get in there and aggregate it.”

Google’s TV ad business showed early promise with a significant inventory commitment from NBC Universal, but once it pulled out of the fledgling network in 2010 it never regained its footing. Google landed a new deal with Cox Media earlier this year, and kicked off 2012 with a client roster that also included DIRECTVVerizon FiOS and Viamedia.

Over the course of 2011, Google reported a six-fold increase in the number of ads aired per day and said it tripled its reach across cable and satellite operators. Despite that growth, Google was still looking back on a markedly turbulent effort. The company’s best years in TV ad sales had come and gone. Google’s network reaches 42 million households today, but in 2009 it could reach up to 12 million more households.

One problem for Google was trying to convince big media companies not to be paranoid of its efforts.

“People are obviously paranoid of Google because they’ve become so big and dominant,” said Baine. “Cable and satellite operators do not want Google in their set-top boxes.”

Of course that’s an especially unique situation for Google today now that it owns its own set-top business through its Motorola Mobility acquisition. Just one day before it bowed out of the TV ads business, Bloomberg reported that Google was moving forward with plans to sell Motorola’s set-top business.

This post originally appeared on ClickZ.

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Google Allows Saved Search Settings Across Computers & Browsers

A recent post on their Google+ Page announces a change to the way Google remembers individual search settings.google-search-settings

Now, users can save their search settings in their Google account, negating the need to reset them each time they sign in or use a different computer.

When multiple people use the same computer, signing into their individual Googleaccounts will also trigger their unique preferences.

In the Google+ post, they wrote:

You asked, we listened—having the ability to save search settings in a way that provides a more consistent search experience was one of the top requests we heard from our users.Now you can save your search settings, such as your language preference or having Google Instant on or off, to your Google Account, enabling you to search with your preferences wherever you’re logged in, even if you’re searching across different browsers or computers.

Google offers these search settings instructions in their Help resource:

To get saved search settings, regardless of which computer or browser you’re using, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Sign in button in the top righthand corner of the search results page to sign in to your Google Account.
  2. Click the gear icon in the top right corner of any search results page.
  3. Select Search settings. (You can also visit the page directly at google.com/preferences.)
  4. Customize your search settings.
  5. Click the Save button at the bottom of the page to save your search settings to your account.

On mobile devices, they said, “To get the same search settings on any mobile device, save your search settings to your Google Account. Since people frequently have different settings on mobile and computer, such as the number of search results per page, your search settings on mobile devices are separate from your search settings on desktop computers. Currently, the SafeSearch filter and language preference settings can be saved and synced on your desktop computer and mobile device via your Google Account.”

If you try to save your settings and it isn’t working, you may have cookies disabled. A SafeSearch lock may also prevent search settings from saving.

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