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Between virtual schooling, social media, and video streaming platforms, kids are more online than ever. Though children are growing up using the internet from their earliest ages, however, most evidence suggests they are more at risk for being targeted through advertising and other forms of online marketing. Now, Google is taking action to protect them.

In one recent study from SafeAtLast, upwards of 75% of children are willing to share personal information in exchange for goods or services. This obviously raises concerns about the long-term implications of gathering data from and targeting ads towards children.

As a result, Google is changing its policies regarding minors online, including removing ad targeting for those under 18 and allowing underage individuals to request for any images of them to be removed from search results. 

These are all the latest changes:

Allowing Minors To Remove Images From Google Search

“Children are at particular risk when it comes to controlling their imagery on the internet. In the coming weeks, we’ll introduce a new policy that enables anyone under the age of 18, or their parent or guardian, to request the removal of their images from Google Image results,” explains Mindy Brooks, product and UX director for kids and families at Google.

The search engine is unable to go further in removing the images from the internet entirely, but it can certainly make it more difficult to find those images. 

Changing Default Settings For Minors

Google is making underage users’ information more private by default across its multiple platforms. That includes changing the default upload mode on YouTube to private for users under 18 and automatically enabling SafeSearch for minors on Google Search. 

Location History Is Disabled

By default, Google had already turned off location history for users between 13 and 17. Now, it has gone further by making it entirely disabled. On one hand, this may lead to less relevant search results, but also prevents excessive tracking of children through Google. 

Removing Ad Targeting For Minors 

In the upcoming months, Google Ads says it will be “expanding safeguards to prevent age-sensitive ad categories from being shown to teens, and we will block ad targeting based on the age, gender, or interests of people under 18.”

New Tools For Parents

Lastly, the company is introducing a number of new tools and features for parents across its entire product line. For example, the company is introducing Digital Wellbeing tools within the Google Home app, allowing parents to manage their children’s use of smart assistants. On YouTube, the company is also turning on ‘take a break’ and bedtime reminders by default, while turning off autoplay.

For more on Google’s latest efforts to protect the private data of children across its services and platforms, check out the full blog post here.

Starting earlier this week, Google Ads has implemented new rules for advertisers promoting cryptocurrency or cryptocurrency-related services across its platform. 

Under the new rules, only those registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) as a money services business and with at least one state or federal entity, or with a state or federally chartered bank can run ads. Additionally, crypto advertisers must have completed the most recent verification process on Google.

With the massive explosion in interest around Bitcoin, Dogecoin, and other cryptocurrencies, Google Ads has also seen an increase in fraudulent ads or outright scams using its advertising service. 

Requirements for Cryptocurrency-Related Ads

If a cryptocurrency exchange or wallet service wishes to advertise on Google Ads, they must be registered with FinCEN as a Money Services Business and with at least one state as a money transmitter. The only exception to this is those registered with a federal or state-chartered bank.

Advertisers must also go through the latest Cryptocurrency Exchanges and Wallets verification process on Google.  

Lastly, cryptocurrency advertisers must comply with all legal requirements and are expected to follow Google Ads guidelines and policies. 

Other Restrictions

Along with these new restrictions, cryptocurrency advertisers should be aware of the already established rules for crypto-related ads. For example, advertisers cannot promote pages or sites which aggregate or compare issues of cryptocurrencies. Advertisers are also forbidden from advertising initial coin offerings.

For more information, check out Google’s latest advertising guidelines for cryptocurrencies and other financial services.

After a prolonged period of testing, Google Ads has officially launched the new Insights page to all advertisers. 

As the company announced, starting April 14th, 2021, “the Insights page is available to all advertisers globally.”

The Insights tool allows for advertisers to easily track and explore emerging trends in your industry to create more effective ads. 

The latest announcement gives an example of how a brand could use the tool:

“Let’s say you’re a pet store looking to reach more customers. With the Insights page, you can see rising demand for ‘dog subscription boxes’ and ‘dog toys’. You can then act on these trends by creating campaigns to reach new pet owners, or even explore selling dog care packages.”

“The Insights page surfaces trends tailored to your business, so you can see if you’re keeping up with demand for trending products or services,” continued the statement.

How Google Ads Insights Works

The new tool pulls data from your account’s performance history and campaign settings, before combining them with search trends across Google to automatically show you relevant trends and insights. 

Currently, the Insights tool only provides one type of data, showing search trends to help you better understand the most recent patterns in search behavior and identify relevant trends in your market. 

However, Google Ads says it will be rolling out more types of insights in the future. 

For more information about the new page, Google Ads has published a help document to get you started tracking the latest trends in your industry. 

For years, two names have ruled the online ad game – Google and Facebook. Currently, that is still true, though a new analysis suggests Amazon is steadily expanding its ad business to be a sizable challenger to the Big Two.

Research firm eMarketer’s latest annual digital ad report shows that Amazon’s share of digital ad revenue broke two digits in 2020, earning 10.3% of U.S. online ad revenue. That’s a significant jump from 7.8% in 2019.

In actual dollars, the online retail giant’s ad revenue reached $15.73 billion, an increase of more than 50% from the previous year.

Should Facebook and Google Be Worried?

Amazon still has some ways to go before it’s ad platform is the size of Google or Facebook’s – both of which receive more than 20% of U.S. digital ad spend.

Still, eMarketer predicts the company will continue to increase its share of online ad revenue over the next few years until it is on par with the other two giants.

For Facebook, this might not be a big concern since much of Amazon’s advertising is driven by Amazon Prime video advertising and product ads. In their current form, both platform’s ads largely serve different purposes.

Google, on the other hand, might be getting a little nervous. Over the past few years, the search engine has been investing heavily into its online shopping services, as well as expanding YouTube’s advertising platform.

What Does This Mean For Brands?

Though this might have significant implications for the future of online advertising, nothing has really changed for the majority of brands who might use these platforms for their ads. 

However, it does serve as a reminder that there are more than just the Big Two online ad platforms. Many of the others out there may be a better fit, provide less competition, and allow you to reach your potential customers at a more ideal time. This is why it is important to know what each has to offer and invest your ad budget into the platform (or platforms) which make the most sense for you.

It can be easy to forget that online marketing can have a much wider effect than just “online”. These days, it is also one of the most powerful tools businesses have to drive in-person and other types of offline sales.

The key is knowing how to optimize specifically for local searches to help those nearby find you and your products or services at the most effective times.

To help smaller businesses do this, Google recently published a small guide with 4 tips and ideas for driving offline sales using your online ads and marketing.

Creating In-Person Sales With Online Marketing

Establish Your Digital Storefront

The first step to using your brand to drive local sales is establishing your Google My Business profile. This allows you to appear in the prime search results placements for relevant localized searches. 

As Google says:

“Stand out when people search for your business, products or services. Getting your business on Google is the essential first step towards driving and measuring visits to your stores.”

2) Measure Your Offline Impact

These days, the search engine’s analytics tools can measure a lot more than online traffic and conversions. Using metrics like Store Visits and Local Actions, you can see exactly how effective your online ads and marketing are in the real world.

“Getting the full picture of how your ads drive impact across channels is important to refine campaigns, make budgeting decisions, and inform your overall business strategy.”

3) Optimize For Online AND Offline

Use ads and optimization to highlight what you have online and what you have to offer at your brick and mortar locations. Not only can you use Google Shopping to showcase your products in search results, you can specifically promote your in-store inventory using Local Inventory ads.

The guide suggests:

“Make the most of your marketing investment and grow revenue for your stores, whether customers ultimately purchase online or in-store.”

4) Showcase Your Locations

Use local campaigns to highlight your local stores and send online searchers straight to your door. 

“Machine learning makes it easier and more efficient to promote your physical business locations at scale across Google properties. It can help you reach customers throughout their purchase journey and optimize for those who are most likely to visit your business.”

For more about how you can use Google and online marketing to drive both online and offline sales read the full Google Ads Help guide here.

Google is making its Hotel Booking Links program available to all hotels and travel companies for free, as the company announced this week. 

What Are Free Hotel Booking Links?

The new program, which was previously only available through the Hotel Ads system, essentially creates an entirely new organic list of hotels and travel agencies with available bookings below the existing paid results in relevant searches. 

As the company said in the announcement:

“We’re improving this experience by making it free for hotels and travel companies around the world to appear in hotel booking links, beginning this week on google.com/travel. With full access to a wider range of hotel prices, users will have a more comprehensive set of options as they research their trip and ultimately decide where to book.”

Additionally, the search engine says it will continue to expand the free marketing opportunities within the Google Travel platform in the future:

“Over time, we’ll continue building this open platform, so that all partners will have even more opportunities to highlight their information and help people book a flight, find a place to stay, or explore a new destination.”

What’s The Difference Between Free And Paid Hotel Booking Links?

The main distinction between the new program and the paid Hotel Booking Links program is obviously that paid links are essentially ads. They are bought through the Google Ads system.

However, this clear difference also influences how Google selects which hotels appear in the listings. 

Paid Hotel Booking Links are ranked based on the traditional Google Ads ranking system, which considers several details including how much the advertiser is paying, how relevant the ad is, and the quality of the page you are sending users to. 

The new free booking links, however, will be ranked using a system more similar to Google’s search algorithm.

As the announcement explains:

“Hotel ads are paid links, ranked according to Google’s ad auction, whereas free booking links are unpaid links, ranked according to their utility to users”

Where To Sign Up

If you’d like your hotel or travel company to appear in these new listings, all you have to do is click here to sign up.

Google Ads is reducing the amount of information it provides advertisers according to recent alerts many account managers have seen in the past week.

The company says it will soon stop giving advertisers data about search queries triggered when there is not “significant” data.

As the alert says:

“We are updating the search terms report to only include terms that were searched by a significant number of users. As a result you may see fewer terms in your report going forward.”

Why Google is Doing This

According to a statement to Search Engine Land, the search engine made this decision to protect user privacy.

“In order to maintain our standards of privacy and strengthen our protections around user data, we have made changes to our Search Terms Report to only include terms that a significant number of users searched for. We’re continuing to invest in new and efficient ways to share insights that enable advertisers to make critical business decisions.”

What This Means For Advertisers

On one hand, the opinion could be made that Google is streamlining its reports and preventing advertisers from being able to identify users or personal information based on individual queries.

For example, it is not unheard of for advertisers to see search terms made a single time or driving a single click in ad reports. That is likely to go away in the coming days, removing outliers and better protecting users.

On the other hand, many advertisers have expressed frustration over the lack of transparency. The decision to remove this information entirely means advertisers know less about where their money is going.

Additionally, Google hasn’t been entirely clear on what “significant” means, making many wary of what this shift will look like. If it just removes queries with single impressions, then advertisers are likely to accept it and move on. Still, there are countless low-volume queries with no risk to privacy which could be removed if Google decides to use a higher threshold. 

Google is launching a new way to promote your brand with smart campaigns in Google Maps called Promoted Pins – and they are free for advertisers through September. 

Until the end of September 2020, advertisers running smart campaigns who also have a GMB listing will not be charged for any clicks, calls, or sales generated from these pins. 

Promoted pins help showcase specific or unique services your business offers, like curbside service, delivery, or pickup. 

“Every month, over 1 billion people use Google Maps to see what’s around them, search for businesses, and find directions. Promoted pins on Google Maps help your business stand out during these moments by displaying a prominent, square-shaped Google Maps pin.”

The company says the decision to make the ad unit free came from wanting to help small businesses get back on their feet after the nation-wide lockdowns. 

Promoted pins have already started rolling out to smart campaign advertisers and should be fully available within the next few weeks.

Google released a few sneaky updates to their advertising policies which could have a dramatic impact on many advertisers in the near future.

Among the announcements are new regulations which allow the platform to pause ad accounts under investigation and significant revisions to its Misrepresentations policy.

Pausing Ad Accounts

While giving an update about plans to verify advertisers on the platform, Google included a statement suggesting they may pause accounts believed to be breaking rules.

As the statement says:

“We may temporarily pause accounts to conduct investigations if we identify potentially harmful advertiser behavior. Paused accounts cannot run any ads.”

While this is in line with Google’s past policies, the surprising addition is a note that the company will take the same action for ad accounts which do not complete the identity verification process after it rolls out.

Changes To The Misrepresentation Policy

Another big change to Google’s ad policies is an extension to what types of ads are blocked for “misrepresentation.”

Beginning in July, these policies will be amended to include a “Clickbait Ads” policy which intends to prevent ads from using sensationalized imagery or text which is purposely vague to drive engagement.

Specifically, Google says it will block ads including these types of clickbait text or imagery:

  • Claims of secret or scandal revelations
  • Language that implies the click will give context (i.e. “click here to find out” or other similar phrases)
  • Imagery featuring altered body parts, mugshots and disaster photos
  • Before and after imagery of the human body

Additionally, the company will block ads using negative life events to evoke emotion, such as:

  • Ads related to potentially traumatic events like accidents, illnesses, bankruptcy, arrests, and more.
  • Ads using imagery to provoke extreme emotions like fear or shock.

What This Means For You

The result of these announcements is relatively limited to a few specific industries – specifically those which provide support or solutions during major negative life events. Under the new rules, ads for bail bonds, diet pills, funeral services, and even law firms will be very tricky – if not outright impossible – to run.

Additionally, the announcement that Google will pause ad accounts which are not verified or are under investigation ups the stakes for failing play by Google’s rules.

Google announced recently that it is requiring advertisers to provide documentation of their identity and geographic location to be eligible to run ads on the platform.

The new policy is an expansion of similar restrictions put in place in 2018 requiring the advertisers behind political ads to provide identification verification.

How Advertisers Verify Their Identity

Google is rolling out the new policy in phases and will be selecting certain advertisers to verify themselves first. Specifically, Google says it will prioritize those who do the following across its Ad Network:

  • Promotion of products, goods, and services.
    • Examples: Retail, media and entertainment, travel, B2B, technology, etc.
  • Promotion of informational, advisory, or educational content.
    • Examples: Content promoting educational resources, research and statistics, free health or financial advice, charitable or social causes, etc.
  • Promotion of content related to regulated industries.
    • Examples: Gambling and games, financial products or services, healthcare products or services etc.

If selected, an advertiser will be required to provide documentation to verify their identity within 30 days. Accepted documentation will include:

  • Personal identification methods
  • Business incorporation documents
  • Possibly other items to verify who they are
  • Operating geography

If documentation is not provided within the 30 day limit, all ads will be stopped until the issue is resolved.

Google also says it will begin the program in the United States before rolling out globally. The new requirements will apply to every aspect of Google’s multi-faceted advertising platform, including Search, Display, and YouTube ads.

Currently, the company expects that it will take a few years to fully implement the program.

Notably, the information currently available suggests that Google is specifically focusing on the individuals or companies running the ads, not necessarily the individual managing the ads. This means your ad agency will likely be asked to verify your identity on your behalf.

New Disclosures For Ads

Part of the reason Google is requiring this information, is that it is beginning to add new disclosures about the identity of advertisers when displaying paid ads.

The disclosures are available below the “Why this ad?” option when clicking for more details.

The disclosure will include information about the advertisers’ name, country location, and will provide an option to stop showing ads from that advertiser.

Why Is Google Doing This?

As the company explained in its announcement, the new program is part of a larger effort to “provide greater transparency and equip users with more information about who is advertising to them.”

Director of Product Management for Ads Integrity, Jack Canfield, elaborated by saying:

“This change will make it easier for people to understand who the advertiser is behind the ads they see from Google and help them make more informed decisions when using our advertising controls. It will also help support the health of the digital advertising ecosystem by detecting bad actors and limiting their attempts to misrepresent themselves.”

For more information, read Google’s announcement here or explore their additional guidance on the program here.