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Tell me if this has ever happened to you. As you’re browsing a website, your thumb accidentally hits an ad as you try to scroll past it, launching a new page. You close it out, and try to scroll down again only to accidentally tap the ad on the page yet again, leaving you in a loop of trying to close the page and move past it but repeatedly wind up tapping an ill-placed ad that you have no interest in.

Not only is this scenario a bad experience for the user, but it is also a nightmare for advertisers who are wasting money on valueless clicks.

This has been a growing issue for the online advertising industry as mobile browsing increases, but sites have struggled to optimize their sites (and their advertising) for mobile viewers and errant taps. Now, Google is finally making changes to hopefully solve the so-called “fat finger” ad clicks problem.

  1. First, taps close to the edge of an image ad won’t be considered clicks. Google says it has identified the border area particularly prone to accidental clicks during scrolling.
  2. Second, for in-app install ads interstitial ads like the one on the right above users won’t be able to click on the app icon because the close button is overlayed on that image. Users will need to click the call-to-action button.
  3. Finally, ads will only become clickable after they’ve been onscreen for “a short period of time”. How long that period actually is isn’t clear, but Google says the delay is to give users “enough time to examine the content of an ad”.

While most of these changes are relatively common sense (why on earth was the app icon ever considered a click?), but they are still welcomed by the advertising community who have been complaining about “fat fingers” since display ads came to mobile.

Bing is swinging back at critics with new data that shows Bing Ads is successfully serving Yahoo search ad click volume.

According to a new Bing Ads blog post, Bing Ads delivered ad clicks against more than 99 percent of Yahoo desktop traffic and approximately 90 percent of traffic from mobile devices over the last month. The click volume continues to average 99 percent of Yahoo’s April baseline click volume as well.

The post also says that a 1 percent deviation month-over-month is a normal reflection of seasonal queries.

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In April, Yahoo and Microsoft renegotiated their search partnership after six years, which led to rumors that Bing Ads would not be successfully serving Yahoo search ad click volume, but the data disputes those claims.

Under the old deal, Bing Ads delivered all the desktop search ads across Yahoo properties, but the new deal allows Yahoo to serve up to 49 percent of that traffic from its own Gemini ad system. Additionally, both companies can now sell their own ads, which previously only Yahoo could do.

googleadwordsGoogle AdWords is one of the most powerful tools available to companies trying to get their ads seen online. The only problem is the service can often feel overwhelming to those who are not experienced with the tool, especially with the near constant updates.

Thankfully Google is making it easier for business owners and advertisers to keep up to date and learn the ropes of AdWords with a super useful how-to-guide to paid search.

The guide is part of the Google Best Practice series, located in the Help section of AdWords. The series provides practical advice on using AdWords products to get the most out of paid search and covers everything from optimizing keywords to measuring analytics data.

To help keep up with the frequent updates, AdWords has also added a timeline tool which displays new features and changes to policy and guidelines in a convenient location. The timeline shows recent updates chronologically, so you can easily see what the latest news is.  The tool will show brief descriptions of all new products, features, and updates, with links to more information.

Considering AdWords updates hundreds of times a year, this timeline will be a godsend to many advertisers who are vigilantly watching for updates.

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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ppc-icon-300Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is still relatively new and many business owners are still hesitant about investing their limited resources into an advertising system they are unfamiliar with. But, there are countless reasons you should make the jump.

PPC advertising has proven itself time and time again as a means of driving real results for all types of brands across all industries, but it also offers several other benefits lacking in other ad formats.

Compared to other ad formats, PPC gives you a whole new level of control and visibility. That means you can finally feel like you hold the reins on your online advertising. Combine that with a professional to help guide you through the dangers of PPC and you have a surefire combination.

If you still aren’t sure, consider these five reasons PPC advertising is worth your time:

  1. You only pay when real people show interest. One of the best parts of PPC is being able to always know exactly where your dollars are going and you only pay when an interested party clicks on the ad. That’s starkly different from most traditional advertising strategies, where you spend money with the hope your demographic engages with the ad.
  2. You set the budget and control the costs. PPC is amazingly flexible and can be made to suit your needs, no matter what they are. You can set the budget to your needs, including putting a cap on daily spending. Of course, the more you invest the more you get back. But, you can at least get your foot in the door and see some engagement with limited investment.
  3. You reach your target at the best time with the right ad. PPC allows you to target a certain type of person in a specific place at a specific time with a specific ad in a simple and easy to manage manner. With full customization of who you are reaching out to, you get to decide who sees your message and when, allowing you to deliver specific messages to your consumers at just the right time.
  4. You can see results in just a short time. Traditional optimization and other organic online marketing can have a huge impact, but they take lengthy periods of time to gain momentum before their effect is obvious. In comparison, PPC is downright speedy. You can see results beginning to take shape the day after your ad runs and make changes to your strategy as soon as problems pop up.
  5. You can use PPC to improve your other marketing channels. The information you get from PPC can inform all other aspects of marketing, such as which keywords are improving, which products are getting the most response, or to promote niche events that often wouldn’t gain attention on other platforms. If you want to refine your marketing, chances are you will find useful data in your PPC reports.

As Google rolls out more mobile ad formats and targeting measures for marketers, the customers seeing the ads appear to be more readily engaging advertisements from their smartphones and tablets.

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A new study from Marin Software shows that consumers are starting to use mobile ads to complete purchases, but desktop is still the dominant platform for conversions. Other interesting facts from Q3 of 2014 included in Marin’s report are:

  • Mobile devices comprised 31% of paid search impressions and 38% of search ad clicks on Google.
  • Mobile accounted for 30% of ad conversions with mobile conversions increasing 2.4% quarter-over-quarter and nearly 11% year-over-year.

Facebook:

  • 1 out of every 3 ad conversions on Facebook took place on a mobile device with mobile ad conversions increasing 16% quarter-over-quarter.
  • Mobile ads on Facebook accounted for 52% of ad impressions and 63% of clicks.

The findings also make it clear that Search ads are performing miles better than Display or Social ads. More-so, while smartphones may not be the most prominent medium for conversions, they consistently gain the highest rate of clicks.

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Marin says the large difference between Search CTE and Social or Display CTR can be attributed to intent. Searchers tend to be actively looking for something, meaning ads will be more tightly focused. On the other hand, those on social sites or Display ads which appear while users are already engaged with something else are less attention getting.

googleadwordsClose to a year after introducing ad extensions and formats to the AdWords Ad Rank formula, Google has announced they will be increasing their visibility as it becomes more and more clear that ad extensions improve ad performance almost universally.

Starting October 15, Google says ad extensions may start being displayed instead of the second line of ad text on ads for mobile platforms, and the second line of text may or may not be removed based on the expected response.

Google offered the example of an ad for a florist. Previously, the ad showed the business’ URL with two lines of general information and a link to place orders. After the update, users will see a Google Maps marker that offers to showthe location of the flower shop instead of the second line of copy.

“By eliminating the second line of ad text, we give businesses another point of engagement with customers in their ads — in this case, it’s the additional location extension,” writes Senthil Hariramasamy, product manager at AdWords, in a blog post. “With just a single click on their smartphones, consumers can now directly engage with Flowers Forever in three ways: they can visit the mobile website, place an order, or get directions to visit the store.”

Google predicts the format update will improve ad performance as it provides easier access to information about businesses in a more pronounced way.

Notably, AdWords will offer a means of opting out of this update via a form available on this Help Center article.

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.

My SEM writing tends to focus on optimization and organic outreach, but with organic reach shrinking across the web, paid search advertising is becoming an increasingly important part to growing your brand and attracting new customers. Paid search has changed just as much as SEO over the past few months of 2014, and Ginny Marvin from Search Engine Land recently compiled the 10 most important developments. Her list is a handy way to catch up on all the Bing Ads and Google AdWords advancements you need to know about.