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Apps

While apps have become the hottest trend for smartphones, the market for apps can be incredibly competitive and hard to break through. Mobile users have limited space on their phone for apps, so they can be hesitant to try out new apps, especially if they are new or relatively-unknown. Even when users do download apps, they often only use it once and forget about it.

Now, Google has launched a new service to let users try out any app they want without having to use up their precious hard drive space. The company has launched a new streaming mobile ad feature that allows users to access a short 60-second or less version of the app that responds just like the full app.

Sissie Hsiao, Google’s head of product for mobile ads, says the goals of this new feature is to help app developers connect with the right users. In a statement to TechCrunch, she explained:

“You can buy ads, you can get apps installed. But a lot of apps are used once or they’re never used, even after they’re installed. We found that 1 in 4 apps is never even used, and there’s often this ‘try once’ experience, and then [the app is] never used again.”

The new streaming mobile ads, called “Trial Runs” allow users to try the app without downloading, which will hopefully help limit the number of “one and done” app downloads. Instead, it will motivate developers to focus on targeting a more refined audience who will be more likely to gully engage with the app.

The new feature is currently available to a limited number of testers, with no word of when to expect a full rollout.

It’s been a long time coming, but starting yesterday you can download the official Google Analytics app for iPhone and iPod Touch. The Android version of the app has been available for quite a while, but naturally there was a delay before Google pushed it out to Apple devices.

google-analytics-ios-app

While the app can run on the majority of Apple mobile devices, it is optimized for the iPhone 5 and requires a device running iOS 6.0 or later.

There aren’t a bunch of new features, but the app opens the opportunity for webmasters to keep up to date with Analytics on the go. You’ll find features such as sources, page views, visits, and TechCrunch says users will even have access to Real Time reports, which will allow you to monitor data as it occurs.

asLast night, an anonymous person claiming to have worked for the Google AdSense department “for several years” posted a statement titled “Google AdSense Leak” on Pastebin which supposedly details a standardized practice of fraud within Google.

The full document is a bit all over the place and unclear in many parts, but the allegations can be broken down to a few key points. According to the anonymous accusations, Google experienced financial issues in 2009 and the AdSense team was told to “tighten the belts” as Google was having to pay too many publishers too much money. To curtail this, the department put a secret initiative into effect that would ban publishers making more than $5,000 per month from AdSense, beginning in March 2009.

The practice becomes especially shady as the supposed Google employee states “We were told to begin banning accounts that were close to their payout period… The purpose was to get that money owed to publishers back to Google AdSense while having already served up the ads to the public.”

The accuser also says they were told the reasons for these practices was that “it was need for the company, and most of these publishers were ripping Google off anyways, and their gravy train needed to end.” Employees who disagreed over the practices were supposedly reprimanded and ridiculed for not being team players, and a small number allegedly resigned right then.

From there, the statement claims that Google wanted to further automate the process, so it set up the “AdSense Quality Control Color Codes” system intended to identify lucrative publishers to ban, while protecting larger corporations or publishers who were likely to create bad press.

The claim says some publishers were even aware of the system and took advantage by “Click-Bombing” their competitors. “Click-Bombing” is supposedly a practice where publishers would repeatedly over-click their competitors’ ads to get them flagged and banned by Google’s fraud detection service.

If true, these accusations could do significant damage to Google and expose a company culture of corruption. However, numerous analysts have found red flags all throughout the text indicating it is a farce. TechCrunch has a pretty thorough take down of the claims. Most importantly, it doesn’t appear the creator of the document ever worked for Google, at least within the “AdSense division”. For one, there is no formal “Google AdSense division” and a Google employee would more likely refer to it by the official internal title “Online Sales and Operations”.

The writer also seems to be unaware of Google’s extensive company culture. He refers to “being a team player”, but several have noted that actual employees call that “being Googley”. There are countless other discrepancies throughout the document, mostly relating to using terms that those inside Google would not, but there are also issues with the writer’s understanding of AdSense policies and internal functionality.

The biggest problem is more than vocabulary inconsistencies and wrong information. As repeatedly pointed out by pretty much everyone who has read the article, the biggest issue is the flawed belief at the core of these supposed policies. While this strategy could potentially save Google significant money in the short term, it would absolutely destroy their long-term platform viability. Google works with more than 2 million publishers and paid out several billion dollars to publishers and advertisers last year. Why risk a lucrative advertising platform’s future for a short term (relatively small) savings?

Of course, Matt Cutts has also issued a statement via Twitter calling the claims B.S. and Google has issued formal statements indicating the claims are false.

Viralheat LogoSocial media analytics and publishing platform Viralheat announced today they will continue to expand their dashboard with new advanced Facebook targeting. That means businesses and marketers will be able to publish and customize ads and other marketing content targeted towards specific relevant demographics based on criteria such as location, age, gender, education, and marital status.

Viralheat has been expanding their dashboard since their redesign was unveiled in February adding the capabilities to manage multiple accounts and engage with audiences easier, as well as including new tracking analytics.

The platform is one of many social media marketing platforms, but the makers of Viralheat hope to simplify the tedious task of managing multiple social media account. It allows users to create Smart Stream Feeds which filters based on keywords, social networks, and sentiment. It also allows users to publish directly to personal accounts.

“We saw the need for our larger clients to be able to target their audience based on specific demographic criteria,” TechCrunch reports Viralheat CEO Raj Kadam said in a statement. “Often times they’ve expended their marketing budgets trying to manually reach a target audience without blasting announcements or offers to their entire following. Our advanced Facebook targeting features allows users to reach a very specific demographic. It has been particularly helpful to our customers that are trying to reach very niche audiences.”

You may have already noticed ads with a company’s number of Google+ followers noted at the bottom of them. This is a new feature from AdWords Enhanced Campaigns and one that you, like I did, might be wondering about. Does it really make that much of a difference how many followers you have? Does it make a consumer more likely to click on your ad? According to Google, yes.

Frederic Lardinois reports for TechCrunch that these ads with the follower count ‘annotations’ receive a 5 to 10-percent bump in CTR than regular ads. A large number of followers would likely lend a little more credibility to an ad, but those companies with thousands or millions of followers likely already have that credibility through name recognition.

And this new feature isn’t available to just anyone with an AdWords account. You’ll not only need a “significant number of followers”, but you also need “recent, high-quality posts”. The whole thing sounds a little subjective, but it may be worth putting the time in to build up your Google+ page to get the boost in CTR.

App StoreMobile optimization has fallen out of popularity a little bit as the new responsive design trend makes the need for a secondary mobile website obsolete. Of course, there are many businesses that have opted to have a specific mobile website, but there is no denying that responsive design is gradually merging mobile and desktop optimization.

What responsive design doesn’t negate is the possible need for an app. There are over 600,000 apps in the Apple App Store alone, and more businesses are deciding to create an app for their products every day.

What many don’t realize is that apps require optimization just like websites. With the huge number of apps out there, you can’t simply get your app approved and expect to see a huge number of people downloading it.

Over the past few weeks, there has been a discussion about ASO (App Store Optimization) stemming from a Techcrunch article claiming ASO is the new SEO. We use apps more every day, relying on them for weather, news, entertainment, shopping, and organization, but I was initially skeptical as to whether ASO will ever achieve some sort of dominance.

Then I started considering my tablet usage throughout each day. I check a number of news sources including CNN and Vice, skim through the more lighthearted Buzzfeed and Cracked, and often browse Reddit. The only one of those activities I don’t do in an app is read news from Vice only because there isn’t one to use and I have checked more than once to see if an app existed (there is one for the iPhone however).

The thing is, I use these apps regularly in the morning and evenings when I’m away from work. For more casual viewers, these apps may not be used enough to justify the space they take up. Most of the apps I acquire either serve a distinct purpose, or allow me quicker access to content I would normally have to open in a web browser. The only type of apps I download without already being familiar with a company are tools.

None of this is to say apps do not have their purpose, or that optimization should be an important part of creating and managing an app, as well as reaching out to the public. However, there are many markets where the apps largely serve to make frequent visitors’ interaction with your content more efficient, and won’t reach as many uninitiated consumers as other markets would.

If you decide an app is an important product you release to the public however, ASO is practically required to keep your app from going nowhere. There are simple steps you can take such as making sure to clearly advertise the app on your website and sharing it on social media, but you can also do keyword research and find out what people are searching for.

While ASO certainly has its place, the debate over whether it will be the “new” SEO seems kind of silly to me. We may reach a point where it is important for every company to have an app, though I don’t think we are quite there. Even then, ASO will only be a small portion of what we do. SEO applies to every business online, and I don’t see it going away any time soon.

Facebook mobile has allowed ads for less than a year, but they’ve put a lot of effort into making it an effective platform. Now they are seeing the benefits of that, as 20% of the ad buys on Facebook are for the mobile format.

The price of the mobile ads are significantly higher than their desktop counterpart, but they are worth it considering their higher visibility due to mobile showing only one ad at a time.

Head over to TechCrunch to check out the full story on the growing platform of Facebook’s mobile ads. If you haven’t already gotten started, you may want to consider allocating some of your ad budget there.

Facebook recently made it possible for users to search specifically in its App Center. You can search by an app’s title or by generic keyword. Josh Constine of TechCrunch suggests that this could open the door for ads within the App Center.

Though there is currently no results page, just a drop down menu after a search, Facebook could easily add sponsored results similar to what Google has already been doing with AdWords. Ads for apps related to the user’s search could appear at the top of the current drop down format, or as full-on entries in a results page.

App Center is not only set-up for ads to easily be included, but it also already has the audience. After only 2 months of operation, it boasted more than 150-million monthly users and that number was up to 220-million at the beginning of October.

App Center has “qualified leads, ample traffic, a model proven by Google, and a huge base of developers/advertisers”. All that’s left is to actually make the ads a reality. 

Smart phone

The full version of AdWords has included the ability to track phone calls generated from ads for two years. TechCrunch’s Frederic Lardinois reports that, beginning last week, AdWords Express, a simplified version for small businesses, included that option as well.

Call reporting is similar to reporting on clicks your ad generates. For every consumer that uses your ad to contact you, Google tracks and stores that information so you can see how effective the complete performance of your ad has been.

Google actually routes these calls through their own toll-free number, using Google Voice technology, and then forwards them on to your business. This way, they can track the calls and charge your AdWords account the same way they do for each click.

Google has hinted that they will accept bids for higher cost-per-call ads, which would get those ads higher placement, but that option has not yet been made a reality.

Facebook recently gave advertisers the option of where to place their ads. The options, including desktop newsfeed and sidebar, desktop newsfeed only or mobile newsfeed, create many possibilities, but the best value has quickly become evident. For the highest click-through-rate and second highest conversion rate, John Constine, of TechCrunch, reports using those dollars on mobile ads is the way to go.

CEO of BLiNQ Media, Dave Williams, says their numbers suggest “that mobile beats desktop placement by a 3 to 1 ratio.”

The one drawback is a positive for users. Facebook limits the number of ads for mobile users in order to keep their experience enjoyable. This means advertisers won’t be able to overload any group with their ads. So, those advertisers will have to be more clever in how they gameplan.

Also, companies are finding that mobile users that ‘Like’ their page are “worth” less than their desktop counterparts. This is because the mobile users are less likely to view photos and videos and also because desktop users are generally more active on a company’s page since they may have to do more work to seek them out.

Though fans of a business’s page only see about 16-percent of their posts on average, Facebook certainly seems to be worth the effort. Once a company has gained that ‘Like’, they are essentially marketing to interested consumers for free.