ComScore have come out to explain a little more detail behind the release from a few days ago which announced the decline in clicks on Google’s paid search ads.

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.


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!

Innovation in PPC

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.

Part of Facebooks game plan seems to have been to create an illusion of openness while at the same time ensuring that their platform is actually closed to anyone who could tread on their toes in the areas that drive their revenue. Now admittedly they don’t have much revenue right now but that is going to change very soon with all the new advertising options available to brands who want to be promoted on the social network. So with this increasing revenue should come an increasingly closed approach as they try to prevent others from stepping on their toes. Right?

Well, it seems Google may have a way in to the Facebook platform, and it may be something that Facebook can’t do anything about.

Bring forth OpenSocket; a Facebook application that allows you to run any OpenSocial application on your Facebook profile. Now, as OpenSocial gains traction I can very well see developers looking for ways to monetise their efforts on this new platform. Of course, with Google at the helm one of the obvious options would be to carry Adsense adverts on your OpenSocial app. So that is how Google can potentially make advertising revenue out of Facebook without striking any sort of deal.

Will this happen? Well, I’d imagine Facebook will try to block Google ads from appearing, but if a lot of developers start using OpenSocial the demand to allow this may be overwhelming and actually more in Facebooks interest to allow this than to try to block it.

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.

Google Adwords goes mobile

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.

So I surmised previously (here and here) that some enterprising person may work out a way to scrape Facebook profiles to gather demographic and behavioural data which could then power an ad serving platform. I also asked whether Facebook is just a data gathering exercise…

An article in the Wall Street Journal has been published talking about just these ideas but it turns out that its Facebook who are planning a new advertising system using the data from profiels and the users activities and interactions on their social network.

It’s aiming for the holy grail of ad serving tools, to allow it to predict what products and services users may be interested in even before they have specifically mentioned them. Now that would be powerful!

Apparently this is top priority for Facebook workers now. They’ve got the audience, they’ve now got outsiders creating apps and building momentum for them now they just need to monetise all that activity.

If they get it right and can make this the most targeted ad platform around, keep their audience and get buy in from advertisers then they will have sealed their fortunes. This has the potential to be Adwords for a social network, and if Facebook can become the communications platform that some think it will then this will be massive!

Note: of course this could all result in a horrible backlash for Facebook if the users decide that using their personal info to target them with ads is unethical…