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Online ads on Google’s AdWords network are a great way to reach a larger audience interested in your services, but breaking the rules can have harsh consequences. Google removed over 524 million “bad ads” from its ad network last year, and 214,000 of those advertisers are entirely banned from the service due to their bad behavior according to a recent announcement from Google.

“While this represents a tiny fraction of the total ads on our platform — the vast majority of advertisers follow our policies and act responsibly — we continue to remain vigilant to protect users against bad advertising practices,” Vikaram Gupta, director of ads engineering at Google, wrote Tuesday in the post.

The latest data shows several improvements from past years, such as a distinct drop in banned advertises for promoting counterfeit goods, but Google says it is a “constantly evolving fight” and the war against bad ads is far from over.

The announcement highlighted several of the “bad ads” trends that dominated 2014, including more than 43 million ads trying to trick users into clicking, over 4.3 million ads containing copyright infringement issues, and over 9.6 million ads containing healthcare-related violations.

The following infographic breaks down Google’s efforts to weed out bad advertising last year:

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fbadsFacebook is making it a lot easier to measure the amount of new business you get from ads on the social media site, according to a new announcement from the company.

 

Facebook has always made it easy to see how your ads are performing in terms of clicks and views, but gauging actual sales from ads hasn’t been so easy. Now, a mew metric called ‘conversion lift measurement’, Facebook claims they can accurately measure the amount of business attributed to ads.

Here’s how conversion lift is measured:

  • When a Facebook campaign begins, two groups are created. One is a random test group of people that see the ads in the campaign, and the other is a control group of people that don’t see the ads.
  • Advertisers share conversion data with Facebook throughout the campaign. Facebook determines additional lift generated from the campaign by comparing conversions in the test and control groups.
  • Any increase in sales in the test group is the result of a ‘conversion lift’ provided by the Facebook ads.

The best part of online advertisement is being able to track nearly every aspect of your advertisement’s performance, but there are still gaps where marketers have had to rely on faith and intuition. Thanks to conversion lift measurement, there’s now one less blind spot.

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Expect to see a lot more videos in your Facebook feed. According to the social media platform, people around the world are posting 75% more videos to Facebook compared to this time last year, and that growth is even greater in the U.S. where video uploads on the social network have risen 94%.

Unsurprisingly, this surplus of video content has also led to a much greater amount of videos being featured in users’ news feeds. Facebook says the number of videos featured in news feeds has risen 360% over the past year.

“With people creating, posting and interacting with more videos on Facebook, the composition of News Feed is changing,” said Facebook in the announcement. “Globally, the amount of video from people and brands in News Feed has increased 3.6x year-over-year.”

“Since June 2014, Facebook has averaged more than 1 billion video views every day. On average, more than 50% of people who come back to Facebook every day in the US watch at least one video daily and 76% of people in the US who use Facebook say they tend to discover the videos they watch on Facebook.”

With the fast growth, Facebook is poised to overtake YouTube as the primary place for marketers to post videos, especially as previous studies have found that on desktop Facebook has already surpassed YouTube in monthly video views.

Facebook also included suggestions for video creators to ensure you get the most reach possible for videos on the platform:

As a creator, you should be conscious that people will discover your video in News Feed next to a photo from a friend or a status update from a relative. Your video needs to fit in, and it needs to be something that your audience will want to watch and share.

With the launch of auto-play and the surge in mobile use, it’s also important to focus on posting videos that grab people from the first frame of video. Shorter, timely video content tends to do well in News Feed. Keep in mind that auto-play videos play silently in News Feed until someone taps to hear sound, so videos that catch people’s attention even without sound often find success.

Pinterest started 2015 with a bang by expanding Promoted Pins to all users yesterday morning. Promoted Pins were first introduced early last year when a beta roll out was given to a select number of advertisers. The social platform announced the expansion Monday, while also providing some pretty astounding statistics about Promoted Pin performance.

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Here are some of the benefits Pinterest claims Promoted Pins can provide:

  • Promoted Pins perform as well or better than organic Pins.
  • Brand advertisers achieved about a 30% bump in earned media from people who saw a Promoted Pin and saved it to their own boards
  • Promoted Pins are repinned 11 times more than organic Pins on average.
  • Promoted Pins draw engagement from users well after a campaign has ended.
  • Businesses typically outside of Pinterest’s core categories and interests were also successful with Promoted Pins.

While these findings sound nice, it is important to remember that Pinterest’s beta launch of Promoted Pins was given to a select number of well-established brands. While the new promoted posting system may carry some weight, the data is based on a test of high-quality targeted ads. Your mileage may vary.

To help businesses get introduced to promoting themselves on Pinterest, the company is establishing the “Pinstitute” – a new interactive program to educate businesses on how to connect with users and improve their return on investment.

The “Pinstitute” helps you learn about what kind of Pins perform the best, what users are interested in, and what products will be coming from Pinterest in the future. The program will also invite select groups of brands and agencies to quarterly workshops. The Pinstitute will have provide webinars and other online education tools tailored for the needs of local and smaller businesses.

After Facebook’s success with video ads, it was only a matter of time before Instagram rolled out their own video ad options. According to Ad Week, you can expect that to start today as the Facebook-owned social image and video platform finally launches their own video ad platform. The only catch is the service is reserved for only five major brands: Disney, Activision, Lancome, Banana Republic, and the CW network.

Instagram’s ad platform is still relatively young, and it has been very cautious about how they go about serving ads to the public. Under the current system, CEO Kevin Systrom has said that he personally reviews every ad before it is allowed to run on the platform so that they don’t come off as aggressive or poor advertising.

The caution payed off as initial skepticism and criticism of ads on Instagram quickly died down when image ads first began appearing. It sounds like the method may also pay off for the video ad service. The Ad Week article says Instagram has reported positive brand awareness and ad recall from testing and that all launch advertisers were striving to be perceived as innovators.

“It wasn’t a hard decision for us,” Brian Chang, assistant vp of media at Lancome USA, told Ad Week. “We, as a brand, wanted to take advantage of being first to market.”

The video ads will begin appearing today and roll out more extensively in the next few weeks, and each ad will have a 15-second maximum length similar to the restrictions placed on Instagram users. Videos will also be muted unless users tap the volume control.

Banana Republic’s ad, embedded below, used Facebook’s Hyperlapse app to create the video. You can view other ads at Ad Week.

 

Snapchat, the popular social image sharing app, recently ran the first ad on their platform since its inception. If Universal Pictures, the movie studio who bought the ad, is to be believed, the results are already showing the advertising exercise was a great success.

It is hard to tell how the format will work for smaller brands, but Universal vice president of digital marketing Doug Neil said “millions” of viewers have seen the 20-second trailer for the horror movie “Ouija”.

However there has been some fallout from the ad tests, especially on Twitter. Some users were surprised by the ads or confused by their disappearance after playing. For big marketing ventures like “Ouija” this isn’t much of a problem, especially as the platform perfectly attracts their demographic, but it could be an issue with more niche or localized brands if Snapchat ever expands the ad platform.

Snapchat’s ad medium does offer one unique benefit from the plethora of other monetizing social media platforms. While Facebook’s videos autoplay for anyone who happens to scroll by, Snapchat’s ads have an incredibly wide reach while only playing for those who actively engage the ads. While a huge range of people were shown the ad’s presence, only those who wanted to view it actually watched.

“It was a lean-in experience,” Neil said. “The people who watched the ad were ones that pressed to play so they were focused on actually viewing the content. As it turns out there were a number of people who screen captured it and it’s actually moved beyond the Snapchat window. But our goal was to get exposure in Snapchat and that was accomplished.”

A little over a year ago, Google brought apps into advertising through the use of app install and app re-engagement ads, which made their way to Google’s mobile AdMob Network this June. Today, these ads also became available on Google Search and YouTube globally.

If you haven’t gotten familiar with app install and app re-engagement ads, Ginny Marvin gives a great explanation in her article for Marketing Land.

Merlin2525_Paid_Business_Stamp_2As online optimization and marketing become more and more essential to the success of smaller businesses, many small businesses are trying to manage as much online marketing on their own as they can manage with limited time and resources.

Most often, this results in the company taking on relatively small SEO responsibilities which can give a slight boost to their online visibility and performance while missing out on the larger benefits of hiring professionals. With limited resources, this may sometimes be the best option, although it doesn’t pack anywhere near the punch.

One of the biggest problems with trying to pickup SEO as a part-time strategy for your business is that SEO is only a part of the equation. These days online marketing is only truly effective when you use a holistic approach that combines social media marketing, SEO, paid search, and even traditional marketing.

Many smaller businesses employ someone savvy enough to even contribute to social media marketing efforts, but typically the do-it-yourself approach results in paid search getting neglected and you missing out on some of the most successful parts of a successful online marketing strategy.

You don’t have to leave all your pay per click (PPC) efforts to the professionals however. If you can’t afford to hire someone to take on your paid search marketing, you can still gain some humble improvements and increase your conversions with some beginner level SEO. Huffington Post shared a list of 8 things anyone can do to improve your PPC efforts, and you might be surprised at what you can accomplish by just sticking your toes into the pool.

If you are pleased with the results, it might even be the push you need to invest serious resources into a strong online presence in all areas.

The report from the 3rd Annual U.S. Mobile Path-to-Purchase Study conducted by xAd and Telmetrics shows that as consumers mobile shoppers are increasingly receptive to relevant mobile ads, reflecting the increasing trust in mobile browsing.

The report, published earlier this week, shows that nearly 50 percent of mobile shoppers reported they felt mobile ads are informative or helpful, up 113 percent from 32 percent last year.

Even more, 40 percent of those surveyed said they have clicked on ads and nearly half of those have taken secondary actions such as viewing the referring website and searching for additional product information.

Clearly, mobile advertising is a blossoming target as the internet becomes increasingly mobile. In a market where mobile use has begun outpacing desktop access, it makes sense that users would become equally interested in relevant ads for their mobile devices.

You can get more information in the infographic shared below, or you can view the report in full here.

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hijackblogHave you ever had to deal with a sudden significant drop in the effectiveness of your pay-per-click advertising? Usually, those types of issues are the result of a bad change with how you are bidding or possibly the failure to adapt to changes on advertising platforms. However, it could also be the result of a concentrated fraudulent effort, as the discovery of a large PPC fraud ring in May shows.

This wasn’t just an issue of click fraud, either. The newer tactic being deployed by the ring of con artists is both serious and hard to detect. Lori Weiman reported that a PPC fraud ring used a tactic called PPC ad impersonation to pose as over 300 advertisers, as well as how they were brought down.

PPC ad impersonation, also sometimes called URL Hijacking, is when a scammer impersonates an advertiser by using the advertiser’s URL as the display URL in PPC ads. But, the scammer then links the ad to the real advertiser’s site through an unauthorized link such as an affiliate link, a phising link, or a cookie-stuffing URL.

Weiman’s report shows exactly how the most recent large-scale PPC ad impersonation ring was brought down, but the issue is far from resolved. Just as with every form of fraud, there are plenty of others out there willing to fill the place of the group that was recently detected.

Normally, these types of fraud are relatively limited, only affecting about 5% of the effected advertiser’s ads, but the recent attack was so bold that between 20% to 100% of ads being shown for some large companies were fraudulent. It is a worrisome sign for the future of these types of attacks, but thankfully this one was resolved rather quickly.