March 1, 2008
It seems that the reason for the decline in clicks is down to improvements made by Google to increase the click quality (such as only making text clickable instead of the entire ad unit).
One has to wonder whether a letter from Google has triggered this deeper analysis of the issue…
Anyway, with the recent news that click fraud is rising rapidly it’s timely for Google to remind us of these improvements. It will be telling to see the Click Forensics data for the 1st quarter 2008.
January 26, 2008
Google has announced the launch of demographic targeting for Adwords. This will enable you to show your paid search adverts to more targeted customers and thus drive better qualified traffic to your site. Very useful!
This involves site owners sending Google anonymised user data so that Google can then track these people and serve targeted ads. Surely this has to raise questions for data protection? That said, it is immensely useful to any retailer with data on their visitors!
December 3, 2007
We all know how notoriously difficult paid search is to get right in a highly competitive marketplace. Take car rental, loads of players, very high bid prices and some really proficient PPC campaigns. Need a what to stand out from the crowd? Take the lead from Sixt of Germany then, they’ve done something very clever with ascii art to make their adverts stand out from the crowd.
This is genius, and they experienced a 40% plus increase in clicks on the campaign! Something that could be applied to many industries!
This campaign has just won an award, more details here.
October 31, 2007
Tripadvisor have released their figures from a survey called their Traveller Trends Survey. Out of the survey comes some predicitions for 2008 trends that we should all expect to see.
One of the aspects of this (the link above has much more detail) is the TripAdvisor TravelCast. It’s a barometer of what’s hot in travel destinations. TripAdvisor engineers have developed a proprietary algorithm that looks at several criteria, including changes in search activity and postings throughout the TripAdvisor site. The TravelCast then predicts the rising stars in travel.
The destinations that are showing as increasing in popularity and expected to be the biggest next year are:
TripAdvisor TravelCast Top Ten World Destinations for 2008
1. Jerba, Tunisia
2. Makandi Bay, Egypt
3. Phangnga, Thailand
4. Kovalam, India
5. Sabaudia, Italy
6. Asilah, Morocco
7. Ko Phangan, Thailand
8. La Plagne, France
9. Yangshuo, China
10. Kotor, Montenegro
TripAdvisor TravelCast Top Ten U.S. Destinations for 2008
1. Sunny Isles Beach, Florida
2. Kitty Hawk (Outer Banks), North Carolina
3. Seward, Alaska
4. Kailua, Hawaii
5. Blue Ridge, Georgia
6. Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania
7. San Marcos, Texas
8. Paso Robles, California
9. Rockport, Texas
10. Copper Mountain, Colorado
Now, this is great insight for online (and offline) travel providers who bid on keywords on search engines. If you are active in pay per click and these destinations match some of your offerings then you should seriously consider looking at the data (clickthroughs, bid positions, bid amounts etc) to see if you can do anything else to get more clicks on these terms. If they are going to be so hot next year it may be worth diverting some of your paid search budget into these destinations over those that don’t perform for you currently. Insight like this is highly valuable, especially when it comes from such a big community as TripAdvisor.
September 13, 2007
Google (GOOG) are getting quite subtle in announcing new products developments these days. They’ve added a new FAQ to the Adwords Help Center which discusses search adverts appearing on mobile devices. I’m surprised this didn’t get shouted about on the Adwords blog…
They’re going to be running ads for free on mobile until 19th November, so your ads could be on the small screen right now. Of course you do have to have a mobile viewable landing page linked to from the ad for it to work (which is something I’m glad Google have done so they aren’t displaying pointless ads).
You’ll be able to opt out at that date.
August 20, 2007
Really good insight as ever from usability expert Jakob Nielsen here. In this article he discusses whats known as banner blindness, the fact that users are often oblivious to the presence of banner adverts on the web. The study he’s undertaken involved eyetracking and the results are pretty conclusive.
The findings show that designing banner ads which supposedly stand out as they are different colours and using borders is actually a false economy and you are better off integrating your advertising into a websites content. Users tend to avoid focusing on objects that look very different from the site design, often hardly glancing at them and rarely clicking. Google are an example of someone who’s got this just right in their implementation of Adwords. As everyone knows, one of the main reasons Adwords works so well is that users rarely identify them as any different to a natural search result.
It’s something I’ve always suspected as users always respond better to cohesive designs where all the elements of a website hang together and complement each other. We recently redesigned our homepage and one of the elements was a promo banner displaying a ‘book online and save’ message. In the new design this is just a textual message on the screen as opposed to a bordered banner, and traffic to that page has doubled since the design changed!
August 19, 2007
Now American Airlines has sued Google for allowing other advertisers to use it’s trademarks as keywords in pay per click advertising. The airline accuses Google of selling the right to use American Airlines’ trademarks and service marks or “words, phrases, or terms confusingly similar to those marks” to competitors who then direct searchers to their own web sites.
This isn’t the first time Google has faced such a lawsuit. Geico sued Google for the same reasons some time ago and lost, and apparently other cases are on the backburner.
This confuses me a little… We use Google extensively for PPC advertising and our highest converting keywords are our brand terms (as you’d expect). Every so often we find a rogue affiliate or competitor bidding on our brand name and we always report this to Google and they remove the offending adverts for us. To enable this kind of response we had to register our brand terms with Google. They don’t really police it actively but they do take down offending ads when asked.
So if the above is possible, why don’t American Airlines just ask for them to be taken down? I’m guessing that they expect Google to do this automatically and to not even allow the ads to appear in the first place. To enable that would be a hugely complex and time consuming development for Google and a fundamental change to the Adwords system. I’m guessing Google would rather not have to do that. But if American Airlines lose (like Geico) then surely Google should not be taking down our competitors ads (as it’s not been deemed illegal)?
Who knows! What I do know is that brand keyword advertising is very lucrative, it returns excellent ROI and is any search marketers meat and drink. Any threat to the way brand term advertising works could have a massive impact on Googles Adwords revenue. If lawsuits like this keep cropping up it is possible Google could ban advertising on trademarked terms for all to stem the tide of subpoenas, that would make PPC a much less attractive proposition!
August 1, 2007
Gigaom mentions an experiment by Google into behavioural targeting for it’s Adwords product. It’s an attempt to increase the relevance and offer a more tactical solution to existing customers.
I’m looking forwards to seeing the next installment as this would be a hugely powerful tool for us. We’re big users of Adwords and anything we can do to increase relevance for our customers will be massively helpful in increasing our ROI.