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A growing number of brands are hitting pause on their Facebook ads for the month of July as part of the Stop Hate for Profit boycott. 

The advertisers, including some of the biggest brands on earth like Coca-Cola, Pfizer, and Unilever, are part of a movement which argues that Facebook has been allowing hate speech, racism, and violence run rampant while the company has also “turned a blind eye toward voter suppression on the platform.”

Who Is Involved

Currently, more than 500 companies are taking part in the boycott. For the exhaustive list of brands, check out this spreadsheet which is being updated as more brands join in.

Here are many of the most recognizable brands involved in the boycott:

  • Acura
  • Adidas
  • Artlogic
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Best Buy
  • Birchbox
  • Boston University
  • Campbell Soup Co.
  • Chobani
  • CityAdvisor
  • CLIF BAR
  • Clorox
  • Coca-Cola
  • CVS
  • Dashlane
  • Denny’s
  • Dockers
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Eddie Bauer
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Fossil
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Henkel
  • Herschel Supply Co.
  • Honda Motor Company
  • HP
  • J.M. Smucker Co.
  • Kay Jewelers
  • LEGO
  • Levi Strauss
  • Lululemon
  • Magnolia Pictures
  • Mars, Inc.
  • Merck
  • Merrell
  • Microsoft
  • Mike’s Hard Lemonade
  • Mozilla
  • OBEY
  • Patagonia
  • Patreon
  • Pepsi
  • Pfizer
  • Pop Sockets
  • PUMA
  • Reebok
  • Siemans
  • Six Flags
  • Starbucks
  • Target
  • The North Face
  • UnileverUSA
  • Vans
  • Verizon
  • Volkswagon
  • White Castle
  • Wingstop
  • Zoe’s Kitchen

Facebook’s Response

In response to the boycott and increasing pubic pressure, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a statement promising to make significant changes to how content is handled on the platform, such as:

  • Providing voting information and helping register people to vote
  • Preventing “new forms of potential voter suppression.”
  • Banning “any content that misleads people on when or how they can vote,” including removing “false claims about polling conditions in the 72 hours leading into election day.”
  • Preventing voter intimidation on the platform
  • Rejecting ads which include “claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity, or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health, or survival of others.”
  • Labeling content from public figures which would typically violate content policies. 
  • Removing content, regardless of the source, “if we determine that content may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote.”

In the statement, Zuckerberg emphasized that the company was attempting to balance “public health and racial justice while maintaining or democratic traditions around free expression and voting.”

So far, the public seems to feel this response is too little and vaguely worded. Since the release of the statement, at least two hundred companies have joined the boycott.

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.

Reddit is launching a new ad type which allows brands to “takeover” the discussion site’s trending section.

The new “Trending Takeover” ads let companies run prominent ads on both the desktop and mobile feeds of the Trending Today area for 24 hours. The ads will be slotted in the second position of one of the site’s most popular areas and will be identified with a simple “promoted” text in bold letters.

 

When clicked on, the ads take users to a landing page featuring the latest conversations, posts, and communities related to keywords specifically selected by you.

Due to the high-profile and limited nature of the ads, Trending Takeover promotions are sold on a reservation basis by contacting Reddit Advertising.

The ads signal the latest push by the platform to be more friendly to brands and advertisers, joining several other recent ad formats. As Vice President of Ads Product and Engineering, Shariq Rizvi said:

“With millions of searches taking place every day and over one-third of users coming to Reddit’s Popular feed daily, brands can now be part of where cultural trends are born online — Reddit. For Reddit, a large focus for 2020 is about maximizing new and premium opportunities for brands to authentically engage with Reddit users.”

Still, brands will need to pay close attention to the site’s communities and only highlight the most engaging content to reach the typically ad-averse audience.

Google says it will be rolling out a new ad extension aimed specifically at driving leads for your business in the coming weeks.

The ads look similar to typical search ads with a unique call-to-action. If a user clicks on that CTA, they are taken to a form which can be quickly pre-filled with contact information from their Google account or manually entered.

In the announcement, Google says lead form ad extensions can:

“Capture interest when potential customers are searching for your company, products, or services on Google. A fast, mobile-optimized experience makes form submission easy and eliminates the extra step of navigating to your mobile site lead form.”

Based on their own testing, Google says one advertiser improved their closing rate for sales leads by 20% by using lead form extensions.

While the feature is currently limited to beta testers, it will become available to all Google Ads advertisers in the next few weeks. However, the ad extensions will not be available for advertisers in a few select areas.

Lead form extensions will not be eligible for ads relating to:

  • Adult-oriented content
  • Alcohol-related content
  • Gambling-related content
  • Healthcare and medicines
  • Political content

For more information about lead ad extensions, check out Google’s new help center document here.

A new report shows that paid search ads are the fastest growing way to advertise online for retailers. 

According to the findings from eMarketer, retail advertisers in the US will spend a combined $13.12 billion on search ads in 2019, up more than 20% from last year. 

In 2020, it is projected that spending will grow even more, to $15.65 billion. 

While search engine advertising is an effective advertising method for most industries, the report suggests that retailers benefit more than other sectors due to specific tools and features. For example, it cites how search ads may appear in Google Maps and show local stock of specific products, which can help drive real-world traffic and sales. 

Based on their data, the report estimates that 46.3% of digital ad spend from retailers will be used on search engine advertising, compared to the industry average of 41.5%.

Similarly, this rate is expected to grow even more in 2020 to account for 47.3% of total retail digital ad spending:

“Retail overindexes on search because bottom-funnel search ads are essential for driving ecommerce, and Google Shopping ads have become a go-to ad product for retail advertisers. Conversion rates for retailers using Google Shopping ads range from 1.1% to 3.1%.”

Part of this growth may be attributed to new burgeoning opportunities outside of Google’s search ecosystem. For example, the report identifies Amazon search as a potential driving force for future retail advertising.

This week Google held its annual Marketing Live event to reveal the latest innovations in online advertising, and the latest ad units aim to provide a more consistent experience across all of Google’s advertising platforms while also introducing new ways to advertise across the web.

The new ad units, including Discovery ads, Gallery ads, and Showcase Shopping ads, are all highly visual and highly automated, relying on the same automation model as Universal App Campaigns.

Here’s what you need to know about all the newest ways to advertise with Google:

Discovery Ads

Google has used the “Discovery” section of its platform to highlight content and sites it feels may be relevant to your interests. Now, brands and websites can also target this section with ads in the Discovery area, visible under the search box in the Google mobile app, in Gmail under the social promotions tabs, and in the YouTube home feed.

As Google VP of Product Management Brad Bender explained during the Marketing Live event, Discovery ads are intended to be “visually rich, mobile first, and use the ‘power of intent’”, meaning the ad service relies strongly on signals from users like past site visits, app downloads, or video views.

The company says the Discovery feed now reaches more than 800 million users around the world, making this a highly attractive area to target with ads.

Gallery Ads

Another new format introduced at the Marketing Live event is Gallery ads, which present a carousel of swipeable images at the top of mobile search results. The carousel includes between four to eight images, with up to 70 characters of copy possible for each image.

Notably, this changes the way Google charges for ads. Gallery ads are paid for on a CPC basis, which means you are charged if someone clicks on the ad. However, Google also tracks how far a person swipes through the carousel. When they wipe past the third image in the sequence, that also counts as a “click” or form of engagement. This means that you may be paying for ad interactions that do not include an actual click or landing page visit.

In testing, the search engine says Gallery ads saw “25% more interactions” compared to other search ad formats. Though, it is unclear how the actual CTR of these ads stacks up.

Increased Visibility for Showcase Shopping Ads

Showcase Shopping ads have been around since 2016 as a way for retailers to highlight a curated list of products in non-branded searches (which Google says accounts for 40% of queries).

Now Google is expanding these ads to a variety of new areas of the platform, including Google Images, the Discover feed, and the YouTube feed.

The ads include a large main image, as well as smaller images. When clicked these ads expand to showcase a variety of relevant products from the retailer, and may include other information such as store locations or in-store availability.

Don’t you wish you could somehow run one set of ads with the perfect headline for anyone who sees it, even when they have different needs or interests? AdWords is bringing that fantasy a little closer to reality with Responsive Search Ads.

These ad formats, currently in beta and available to some advertisers, allow you to set up one ad with multiple varying headlines and a few different descriptions which are alternated based on your advertising goal and the user’s intent.

Interestingly, these ads also get more screen real estate than standard text ads while Google is giving them a try.

The idea is to make your ad more versatile and to do the function of A/B testing for you without all the manual work. This also allows you to have a wider variety of keywords trigger your ads.

You can set up to 15 different headlines and four unique descriptions in a responsive search ad. With these, you can include headlines or descriptions for any scenario that might bring potential customers upon your services or products.

When shown, the ads will include up to three headlines instead of two, and up to two 90-character descriptions instead of the usual one 80-character description.

To best plan for this, Google recommends writing your first three headlines as if they will be shown together (in any order).

Google also suggests making headlines distinct by focusing on different features, benefits, or offers.

You can also “pin” certain headlines or descriptions into specific positions. This allows you to guarantee one headline will always be shown on top or a disclaimer is consistently positioned at the bottom of the ad.

If you’re a business investing any amount of your budget into online marketing, there’s a good chance you are running ads on Google. So, it may raise your eyebrows to learn the company operating one of the largest online ad platforms is about to release a new feature that will block ads on Chrome.

Indeed, Google is updating its web browser to block ads by default. However, it appears Chrome’s ad blocker will only filter specific types of ads which are considered “unacceptable” by the Coalition for Better Ads standards.

As the original report about the new feature from The Wall Street Journal explains:

“Unacceptable ad types would be those recently defined by the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group that released a list of ad standards in March. According to those standards, ad formats such as pop-ups, auto-playing video ads with sound and ‘prestitial’ ads with countdown timers are deemed to be ‘beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability’.”

The news makes it fairly certain that Chrome’s ad blockers will be significantly less aggressive than many third-party options, but it is unclear exactly how it will work. It is possible the site may only block specific offending ads, but the report indicates Google is also considering blocking ads across an entire site if any ads are deemed unacceptable.

In other words, play by Google’s rules or have all your ads on your site blocked.

Many consider the news that Google is preparing an ad blocker to be a surprise, but there is a reasonable argument for the decision. The rise of ad blocker usage isn’t going away, with many citing malicious, aggressive, or annoying ads as their primary reason for using a third-party blocker.

By taking a proactive action to block offending ads by default, the company may be able to pull some users back from blocking all ads entirely. That means the typical ads across their platform would continue getting shown and generating revenue instead of being removed by a third-party app.

There are a lot of questions about how exactly the ad blocker will function, but the WSJ says you can expect to learn more about the feature “within weeks.”

It’s no secret that there are lots of bad people trying to operate scams online. Bing’s latest report on bad ads makes that crystal clear, as the search engine has removed over 130 million ads and banned 175,000 advertisers in just the last year.

Somewhat surprisingly, that number is actually 120 million fewer ads than in 2015. In comparison, both those ads combined are still dwarfed by Google’s 1.7 billion blocked ads in 2016.

As the Bing Ads’ Ad Quality in Review 2016 report explains, the ads were rejected for “direct policy compliance issues or intention to mislead users.” It continues:

“We introduced new policy around software download advertising that reduced unwanted and potentially malicious ads for many top free software programs. We ramped up systems that detect browser hijacking ads, phishing attempts, scareware ads, ads targeting the most common sites on the internet, and ads with multimedia content. We also enforced policies directed towards gender determination ads to comply with country specific regulations.”

The report specifically highlights six different types of bad ads it removed in 2016:

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  • Phishing: More than 5,000 advertisers and 7,000 sites were blocked for phishing.
  • Counterfeit: More than 1 million ads were blocked for selling counterfeit goods.
  • Tech Support Scams: More than 17 million ads were blocked for third-party tech support scams.
  • Download: More than 4 million ads were rejected for violating download-related guidelines.
  • Scareware: More than 300 advertisers were blocked for ads that highjack the browser or scare users that their PC is infected.
  • Misleading Ads: 7 million ads were blocked for misleading content. This is a huge drop compared to 2015, when Bing rejected 30 million ads.

Bing emphasized the scale of their efforts with a final comparison, saying “if one person took a minute to find and take down a bad ad or actor, it would take them nearly 500 years to remove the same number of bad ads or actors found by our automated methods in 2016.”