Google AdWords for Video Launches with Improved Targeting on YouTube

What does the new Google privacy policy, YouTube and Trueview metrics all have in common? They form the foundation of Google’s latest AdWords platform change which brings video advertising out of the realm of huge budgets and TV ad campaigns and into the hands of small to medium sized businesses all over the world.

Google aims to bring the analytical power of paid search advertising to video content and use the same type of bidding model to make video advertising available, affordable and measurable for everybody. The most significant change for experienced video advertisers is that campaigns will now be able to demographically target 10x more users on YouTube.

Just like paid search, where you only pay per-click to your website regardless of how many times your ad is shown, with AdWords for video you only pay per-view of your video ad. What is more, with TrueView pricing you only pay every time a user watches your entire video ad. Should a user skip your video ad (by pressing the skip button) in the first 30 seconds or before the end of your video ad, you will not be charged. If your ad runs over 30 seconds, you will be charged a cost-per-view at the 30 second mark.

There are four types of TrueView ad formats, which enable you to determine exactly where you want your ad to appear on YouTube and the Google Display Network (GDN). These ad formats are:

In-streamIn-searchIn-slate In-display

These essentially control whether you want your video ad to appear as a pre-roll to other videos, in search results, at the end of other videos or in the related videos section.

It’s really simple to get started. All you will need in advance is a YouTube account. All you have to do is go to and link up your YouTube account. To celebrate the official launch of this product Google is also giving away a total of $50 million in free advertising credits worth $75 per account.

New Features in AdWords for Video

Now that AdWords for Video is out of beta, Google has released a slew of new features for users to target and analyze the impact of your video ads. Here is a quick overview video of the AdWords for Video features and an explanation on how to get started (the key points in the video describing new features are linked below).

TrueView Format Selector - Now with the four TrueView ad formats you can opt out of specific types. For example, disabling in-search ads will be denoted as a partial opt in to the Google Display Network.

Demographic Targeting - Google’s new all-in-one privacy policy for all Google accounts means that advertisers can now target video ads by age and gender across all Google properties. This actually represents a fairly significant change according to SEW Video expert Greg Jarboe.

"Last year, about 2 to 3 percent of the people who visited YouTube had YouTube accounts which meant that they were the only ones that YouTube could target by demographics," Jarboe said. "Now, with the linking of Google and YouTube accounts, 5 to 10 times more people can be targeted by demographics. What was just an interesting capability has now become a significant opportunity."

Interest/Topic Targeting - Not a new feature per se, but with Google's all-in-one privacy policy now applicable to YouTube, interest/topic targeting is likely to also have a broader reach then it previously did. What used to be hosted separately as the YouTube Video Targeting Tool has now been decommissioned and re-emerges in the AdWords for Video interface.

Downstream Video Analytics - the AdWords for Video reporting interface also has a cool new feature which shows you what videos users watched on your YouTube channel after arriving via a video ad. AdWords for Video product manager Lane Shackleton told SEW that the aim of this metric is to show advertisers that "paying for video views can drive follow on viewership on their YouTube channel". The downstream analytics tool will show many further free views to your channel video advertising can generate.

Advanced Bidding - Unfortunately we don't have too much information on this feature but it looks like advertisers will be able to optimize their bids against "engagement" metrics such as video shares and +1 button clicks.

Advanced Video Marketing Tactics

In tandem with the launch of AdWords for Video, YouTube will be launching a playbook for advertisers which follows the techniques and strategies of some of their most successful video advertisers.

Shackleton shared some tactics that seemed to be working for some of their advertisers.

Some products, such as the make and model of a camera, are easy to describe in text. But others need sight, sound and motion to fully communicate their value. These products are ideally positioned to be advertised on YouTube and can generate significant direct sales.

The TrueView video metric means that video ad plays count as true play counts on your video and YouTube channel. Use your video ads to highlight the interesting content you have on your channel in general. Make the ad a teaser for your YouTube channel and aim to generate more downstream clicks on your channel.

Think about placement and optimize the length of your video to work for the best placement. For example, In-Search ads might suit longer and more informational content whereas in-stream ads might need to be much shorter (bite-size) and instantaneously engaging.

The winners in the competitive bidding landscape of AdWords for Video will be those advertisers who engage most effectively with placement, ad timing and demographics. Focus on view rate (like CTR in search) to get the best price for your video views.

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66% of Advertisers Using Paid Social Ads, ROI Still a Concern [Survey]

Advertisers have reported that they are taking an integrated approach to social media advertising, according to a new Vizu survey.

About 66 percent of advertisers say they integrate paid social ads into their online campaigns. While another 51 percent say they integrate social ads into their offline marketing efforts.

According to Vizu, a Nielsen company, advertisers run paid social media ads most often with online video, online display, and mobile. Offline, advertisers reported that they are most inclined to run paid social ads with print and TV campaigns.

Around 83 percent of advertisers surveyed said they run social ads in conjunction with online display campaigns. Roughly 46 percent said they do the same with online video marketing efforts. About 40 percent also reported using social ads together with mobile advertising operations.

In the offline world, 52 percent of those surveyed reported combining print ads with paid social media campaigns. TV advertising operations were also shown to be used alongside social media ad campaigns about 37 percent of time, according to the study.

Primarily, social ads are reported to be used for branding efforts. Surveyed participants said they use social media ads for branding by a 45 percent margin. Of those respondents only 16 percent said their campaigns are primarily direct response related.

A major problem for advertisers using paid social ads is finding a proper metric for the platform. Many advertisers remained unconvinced of social media ads because of a lack of proper metrics, according to the study.

"With paid social media advertising on the rise, it's no surprise that marketers are beginning to look for true measures of return on investment to justify their investment," says senior vice president of product leadership for advertising effectiveness at Nielsen Jeff Smith. "And with paid social ads increasingly part of integrated, branding-related campaigns, there is real demand for metrics that are consistent with what they've used for other media, such as brand lift and sales lift."

Statistics for the Vizu study were gathered from survey responses from over 500 digital marketing and media firms in the field. Surveys were sent out in the fall of last year.

This article was originally published on ClickZ.

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Will Google Now For iPhone & iPad Boost Google Search App Usage?

Engadget spotted and has archived a promotional video that suggests the Google Search App for iOS may be gaining Google Now support. That support might help boost usage of the Google Search App, which barely makes the iTunes Top 100.

Google Now No Longer Android-Only?

Google Now is Google’s predictive search assistant, which tries to anticipate answers to things before you ask, such as travel times to destinations you frequent.�Google Now is available for newer Android devices but not for the iPhone.

Late last year, after two months of delay, an upgraded Google Search App was approved by Apple. While it had a Google Now-like look, using similar “info cards,” it lacked the actual Google Now predictive service.

The Google Search App

The Google Search App can often provide answers to some questions faster than Apple’s native Siri voice assistant, as our�How Google�s New Search App For The iPhone Might Steal Searchers Away From Siri�article from last year explains more.

Despite this, the Google Search App hasn’t rocketed to the top of the iTunes download charts.

YouTube, Google Maps Adoption Tops Google Search

YouTube, for example, has held steady in the iTunes top ten for free apps, currently ranked eight. YouTube isn’t native on the latest version of iOS, and people are clearly going out of their way to get the app. It shot to the top after being released last September and has stayed there:

When�Google Maps was released last December, it also shot to the top of the charts and remains there now, number nine, just after YouTube.

Breaking The Safari Habit

In contrast, the Google Search App never hit the top ten that I spotted,�immediately�after it launched. After a week, it was only at 48. Currently, it’s at 95. People clearly aren’t seeing it as a necessity, compared to things like YouTube or Google Maps (though Apple recommendations of those two might be helping them).

In part, that could be because Google Search is the default in Safari. People might not have broken the habit of searching from Safari’s built-in search box. Potentially, Google Now being added to the Google Search App might help boost adoption, by breaking the Safari habit.

Meanwhile, Google Now For Chrome & Chromebooks?

Separately, The Verge reported earlier today that signs are that Google Now might come to Chrome and Chromebook users. Our Marketing Land story has more on that:�Report: Google Now Coming To Chrome & Chromebooks?

Here’s the video that Engadget captured:

Postscript: Google told us it has no comment on whether the video is actually from them or any plans to bring Google Now to iOS.

Related ArticlesGoogle Now Gains More Content Categories & Info Cards“Google Now” Moving Well Beyond Search, Becoming Mobile AssistantGoogle Expands Gmail In Search Results With My Orders, My Events & My ReservationsNew Google Search App With Siri-Like Voice Responses Finally Approved For iOSWhat’s The Best Smartphone? Google’s New iOS Search App Says Decide For YourselfHow Google�s New Search App For The iPhone Might Steal Searchers Away From Siri

Google Adds Publisher Opt-Out Tool For Shopping, Flights, Hotels & Local Search

Don’t want your content to be included in many of Google’s vertical search services, such as Google Shopping or Google+ Local? Google’s got a new tool for that, a result of its agreement earlier this year with the US Federal Trade Commission over anti-trust charges.

Announced on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, the new tool is located within Google Webmaster Central and allows publishers to keep their content out of:

Google ShoppingGoogle+ LocalGoogle FlightsGoogle HotelsGoogle Advisor�(financial product search)

Oddly, several of these services only allow you to be included if you pay, such as Google Shopping, so what exactly is the opt-out tool helping with? Presumably with things like review data that Google might gather from the Web and associate with product or place listings.


Disappointingly, the tool doesn’t let you selectively choose which services to opt-out from. For example, here’s how it looks for me:

If I were to choose to opt-out, I’d be dropped out of the five services listed above, as Google’s sparse help page explains. There’s no way to pick-and-choose services.

FTC Sought Selective Choice

That’s bad, because Google created this tool in response to its agreement with the US Federal Trade Commission, over anti-trust charges. Some Google competitors were upset over Google’s “all-or-nothing” approach to crawling them.

For example, if Yelp didn’t want its reviews summarized in Google Local, until relatively recently, the only option it had was to opt out of everything, including Google Web Search.

Yelp (and others) didn’t want to do that. They wanted to continue to be listed in some services, like Web search, and get traffic from those, while not have their data help Google in other services, such as Google Local.

That was a key part of what the FTC won for publishers in its agreement with Google, the right to opt-out of vertical search but stay in Web search:

Google will give websites the ability to �opt out� of display on Google vertical properties.

Under the same commitment, Google also has promised to provide all websites the option to keep their content out of Google�s vertical search offerings, while still having them appear in Google�s general, or �organic,� web search results.

In Google’s letter�(PDF file) to the FTC, as part of the agreement, it spelled out more exact terms — that a “web-based notice form” would be provided to cover the five services listed above and any future services with the “primary purpose of connecting users with merchants” in a manner similar to the five.

Opting-Out Beyond The Five

Google’s letter specifically said that other services, including as Google News, Google Image Search, Video Search, Google Maps, Google Book Search and Google Finance, wouldn’t get opt-outs.

Today’s move delivers the letter of what was required, but the spirit of picking-and-choosing from among the vertical services doesn’t feel met. Maybe few of the even fewer publishers who really wanted this type of opt-out actually care about the selective choice, but not giving that type of choice has long been a problem for Google. Why not deliver it?

For example, Italian newspapers made so much noise that opting-out of Google News would get them “banned” from Google Web Search (it didn’t, if you made a human-based opt-out request) that an Italian anti-trust review looked into the allegations. That gained a further reassurance that Google wouldn’t block news publishers from Google Web Search, if they opted-out of Google News.

Ultimately, you’d think at this point that Google would have developed a system letting publishers pick-and-choose exactly what services they want to be included in or not. Instead, it feels like Google’s going to do only the minimum it’s required to.

Study: Many Searchers Choose Google Over Bing Even When Google’s Name Is On Bing’s Results

In a recent study by SurveyMonkey examining SEO assumptions, respondents were given two search result pages, one with a page header labeled “Google” and the other with a page header labeled “Bing,” and asked which page of results they preferred. Even when the page header labels were swapped, more users preferred the Google search results.

Of 641 survey respondents, 379 participants received a survey asking which of two search result pages they preferred. One page of results for the term “file taxes” included true Google results and the other page included true Bing results. The Google page was chosen by majority of the respondents.

A second survey was given to 262 participants. Using the same search term, respondents had to choose between a Google search results page and a Bing search result page. In this survey the SERP headers were swapped with Google results listed as Bing results and Bing results listed as Google results. Of the respondents who received the swapped search result pages, a larger percentage of respondents still chose Google results, even though they were actually Bing search results.

Not only did the survey find that users are biased toward Google, but they are influenced by a site’s brand as well. In a separate question, participants who received the first survey were asked to rate the believability of an article on, while participants who received the second survey were asked to rate the believability of an article on a generic website, Respondents were more likely to rate the article as believable.

Another key finding of the survey revealed that the No. 1 reason users would block a website from future searches if given the option was if the website contained too many ads.

The study, conducted using SurveyMonkey’s Audience tool, asked participants a number of questions based on general SEO assumptions. The audience was a random selection of males and females, age 18 to 60 from across the country with annual household incomes ranging from $25,000 to $150,000+ and varying education levels.

EU Goes Public With Google Antitrust Proposals, “Market Test” FAQs

The EU released documents this morning that detail Google’s antitrust settlement proposals and explain the Competition Commission’s position on various aspects of the investigation. First here’s what the EU says Google has proposed:

Google offers for a period of 5 years to:

(i) – label promoted links to its own specialised search services so that users can distinguish them from natural web search results,

- clearly separate these promoted links from other web search results by clear graphical features (such as a frame), and

- display links to three rival specialised search services close to its own services, in a place that is clearly visible to users,

(ii) – offer all websites the option to opt-out from the use of all their content in Google’s specialised search services, while ensuring that any opt-out does not unduly affect the ranking of those web sites in Google’s general web search results,

- offer all specialised search web sites that focus on product search or local search the option to mark certain categories of information in such a way that such information is not indexed or used by Google,

- provide newspaper publishers with a mechanism allowing them to control on a web page per web page basis the display of their content in Google News,

(iii) no longer include in its agreements with publishers any written or unwritten obligations that would require them to source online search advertisements exclusively from Google, and

(iv) no longer impose obligations that would prevent advertisers from managing search advertising campaigns across competing advertising platforms.

These commitments would cover the European Economic Area (EEA).

The proposals also foresee that an independent Monitoring Trustee will advise the Commission in overseeing the proper implementation of the commitments.

Most of this has been previously leaked or exposed in news articles. Other than the vertical search provisions the settlement proposals generally mirror what Google agreed to do in the US settlement with the FTC. There’s no discussion, however, of Google’s patent portfolio and agreement not to use its patents for anticompetitive purposes, which was part of a consent decree with the FTC.

The Competition�Commission�seeks input and feedback on the proposals for a period of one month (not the three months requested by This is the so-called “market test.”

The Commission also released a kind of FAQ document that tries to clarify for the public and journalists what it’s up to and its position on various issues in the antitrust investigation. Below is a summary of some of the statements and conclusions offered. The excerpts are verbatim from the EU site.

On Google’s market “dominance”:�

The Commission’s preliminary view is that Google is dominant in the European Economic Area (EEA) both in web search and search advertising. For instance, Google has been holding market shares in web search well above 90% in most European countries for several years now, a level which is higher than in many other parts of the world. There are also significant barriers to entry and network effects in both markets.

The Commission has also reached the preliminary conclusion that in four areas Google may be abusing its dominant position in the EEA (see below). Such abuses would be in breach of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

On vertical search or “search bias”:

The first competition concern relates to the way Google displays links to its own specialised search services in its web search results. In addition to its flagship web search service, Google also operates several specialised search services such as Google Shopping, which specialises in the search for products, or Google Places, which specialises in the search for local businesses.

Google prominently displays links to its own specialised search services within its web search results and does not inform users of this favourable treatment. Due to the favourable treatment of Google’s own services, consumers are more likely to not make use of potentially more relevant competing services. First, users are not aware of the promotion of Google’s offer within the search results. Second, competitors’ results that are potentially more relevant are less visible and even sometimes not directly visible to users – they are more difficult for the user to find, for instance because the user has to scroll down the screen to see them or has to go to a subsequent search results web page.

The Commission is concerned that this practice unduly diverts traffic away from Google’s competitors in specialised search towards Google’s own specialised search services. It therefore reduces the ability of consumers to find a potentially more relevant choice of specialised search services. Since Google is an important source of traffic for competing specialised search services, this may reduce competitors’ incentives to innovate in specialised search.

On the differences between its position and conclusions and the FTC investigation:�

The factual and legal environments are different in the US and Europe. In particular, Bing and Yahoo represent a substantial alternative to Google in web search in the USA: their combined market share is around 30%. In contrast, Google has been holding market shares well above 90% in most European countries for a number of years. Web sites therefore rely more on traffic from Google in Europe than in the USA. Given the resulting commercial significance of Google for specialised search services, the way Google presents its web search results therefore has a much more significant impact on users and on the competitive process in Europe than it does in the USA.

On whether The Commission is protecting�competitors�vs. competition in general:�

The Commission does not act to protect competitors as such, but to preserve the competitive process for the benefit of consumers. It acts only when there is harm to competition with negative effects on consumers, in particular in terms of reduced choice and less innovation.

In particular, the Commission is concerned that the way in which Google currently presents its web search results limits the ability of European users to find their way to specialised search services competing with Google which contain information relevant to their query. Many such services might be potentially very innovative and Google’s practices could therefore be limiting European consumers’ opportunities to benefit from such innovative services. At the same time, it is for users to decide whether they wish to visit these sites based on their merits.

On the “market test”:

The commitments are now subject to a market test of one month. Complainants, third parties and members of the public are therefore able to comment on the commitments, and the extent to which they address the Commission’s four concerns.

If following the market test, the commitments form the basis for a satisfactory solution to the Commission’s competition concerns, the Commission may make them legally binding on Google by way of a Commitments Decision (so-called “Article 9 procedure”). Such a decision does not conclude that there is an infringement of EU antitrust rules, but would legally bind Google to respect the commitments offered. If a company breaks such commitments, the Commission can impose a fine of up to 10% of its annual worldwide turnover.

On what happens if the parties can’t settle:�

The Commission would then continue its investigation through the normal antitrust procedure.

My comments:

I’ve not�included�the other “areas of concern” in this discussion because they’re less contentious and more easily resolved than the vertical search or “search bias” issue. In addition, they were resolved in the FTC settlement and will likely be resolved here.

Regarding the above statements I have a number of observations.

The Commission has effectively concluded Google is a monopoly because of its 90+ percent market share

The Commission doesn’t regard�Google Shopping, Google Places, Google Hotel Finder, Google News, Google Finance, Google Flight Search to be integral parts of Google search results but distinct verticals competing with rivals from the US and EU.

The Commission�views Google’s Universal Search/Onebox and any other Google-supplied vertical content at the top of the page to be�unnaturally�”promoted” and “diverting traffic” from “potentially more relevant competing services.” This latter phrase is particularly interesting. While I would agree that Kayak and TripAdvisor are currently much better services than Google Hotel Finder and Flight Search, this is a conclusion that lacks�empirical�support. It’s what I would call a “cocktail party conclusion.”

Regarding the notion that Google’s vertical search content “reduces the ability of consumers to find a potentially more relevant choice of specialised search services,” again this is a conclusion that without empirical�evidence is unwarranted.

Regarding the defensive “competitors vs. competition” remarks from the EU: there may in fact be a long-term threat to competition because of Google’s market share. For example, Google Maps is an excellent service and Google’s presentation of Maps results virtually guarantees that third party mapping services will not get organic traffic. I’m sympathetic to the challenges of getting exposure in search results.�However behind many of the assumptions, statements and conclusions in the EU docs is the idea that search is effectively the only channel for exposure and promotion. And while search is an extremely important channel the implication that it’s the only way to gain exposure is simply not accurate (see, e.g., online display, mobile apps, traditional media, etc).

The Commission essentially says it’s taking a different position than the FTC on vertical search because Bing and Yahoo have a combined 30 percent share in the US and represent an alternative source of traffic; whereas in Europe Google is much more dominant. That’s factually correct but the FTC didn’t decline to pursue the vertical search issue because of Bing and Yahoo’s market share. The agency faced a very tough legal challenge on that question (including the First Amendment). In addition there was no evidence of consumer harm — a discussion that’s been missing from the EU investigation almost entirely. From what I’ve seen and can tell, consumer harm is simply assumed.

The EU will not be regulating the Google�algorithm�but it is intervening in the SERP. Beyond labeling Google’s own services as “sponsored” or otherwise associated with Google the crux of the solution is a kind of “top three box.”

As I’ve argued before this is highly problematic. Who will be in the box? What about startups vs. incumbents? This will be a new source of controversy on an ongoing basis because Google will control who appears there. The FairSearch complainants and others will want “access” to that box.

One suggestion made by a third party was that Google’s “verticals” be subject to the same�algorithm�as its content-publisher competitors. While that would negatively impact Google’s vision of its user experience (and would have profound implications for Google Now and mobile search results) that’s a better approach than the “top three box” currently being proposed.

What do you think of all this?

Postscript: See our follow-up story.�Google�s New European �Antitrust� Search Results: Here�s What They�ll Look Like.

Google Pulls Related Searches Filter Due To Lack Of Usage

Google has quietly removed the “related searches” option from the search tools menu within the Google search results page.

When Google launched search options in October 2009, the option for “related searches” appeared on the left-hand side under the “standard view.” The placement of the “related searches” search option has changed over the years, including the whole search filters being moved to the top in November 2012; but, the ability to find related searches remained.

That has ended last week, when Google decided to remove the feature. Google told us that they “weren’t seeing enough usage of this filter to maintain it in the toolbar.” Google did add that it did not completely go away, like always, when it is relevant, Google will show “related searches” directly within the search results, typically at the bottom. Google told us, “we do display related searches at the bottom of the page when they seem relevant enough.”

AJ Kohn first spotted this on his blog and explained how this removes a useful, related keyword tool for many marketers.

Google Kills Instant Previews, Adds New Drop-Down Menu to Search Results

Google Instant Previews, which gave searchers a sneak peek of a website by hovering over a magnifying glass icon, has been removed due to low usage. Now Google has added a drop-down to view Cached or Similar results, or Share a page on Google+.

Google Instant Previews launched in late 2010 and looked like this:

Google later added Instant Previews to mobile, and video. These are also now gone.

An update to Instant Previews in 2011 moved the magnifying glass further to the right. At that point, the Cached and Similar links appeared above the actual preview.

There was no Share option, as Google+ had just launched as an invitation only service. The Share link was later added beside the search results.

The new dropdown menu looks like this:

"As we’ve streamlined the results page, we’ve had to remove certain features, such as Instant Previews," according to a Google spokesperson in the Google Search Forum. "Instant previews saw very low usage by our users, and we’ve decided to focus on streamlining the page to benefit more users."

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How to Create a Mobile Content Strategy

Content strategy is all about matching visitor intent with the right message to meet user needs and business goals simultaneously. Finding the right match is already complicated, and adding in the source device sheds some light on visitors and traffic patterns.

Recent information from the Financial Times and The Guardian showing how users access these sites and sheds some insight onto user behavior. Both papers see evening and weekend spikes in mobile use in addition to weekday desktop usage.

The Guardian shares more data on their reader, and it's especially interesting to see that tablet users tend to use the desktop site more than either the mobile site or the tablet apps available.

Additionally, those tablet users fill in gaps left by other browsers. The white line in the slide below is tablet use on the Guardian's main site as opposed to their paid app. It shows a spike in evening use, right between prime time and bedtime. This all supports the tablet as a second screen tool and addition to the desktop.

Both FT and The Guardian saw more interest in arts and entertainment stories on tablets during the weekend, leading to a conclusion that devices don't cannibalize each other, but that users prefer to access content as comfortably as possible. It isn't comfortable to access arts and entertainment information at work with co-workers or a boss nearby, but it is very comfortable to do so at home, possibly as a second screen to a feature film. The tablet has the power to resolve those questions of what movies that actor has previously been in without leaving the comfort of the couch.

Sites can use this insight to adjust their editorial calendar and provide content that matches reader interest by time of day, day of the week and device. Similar to detailed PPC campaigns, SEO campaigns can get granular information to influence what content is produced when as well as how it is displayed. Depending on audience size and behavior, it might make sense to create mobile-specific content, as the Guardian has done with their app.

This threaded model helps plan if you need device-specific content, and which devices get that content:

High access by a certain type of device, or high conversions from a specific device, would justify content specifically for that device. The Guardian delivers specialized content to their mobile site, but that content is the same for tablet and smartphone users. But it actually follows a triple-thread approach in its app strategies. The apps are the third thread of content written specifically for iPad or iPhones. What Content For Which Device?

Discover New Mobile Marketing Opportunities at SES Toronto 2013:Mobile Content Marketing: Connecting with Your Audience on the MoveSee the full agenda.

You probably see users looking at certain content on different devices already. In that case, follow your customers' lead. If you don't have enough data to base your strategy off current customer behavior, recent studies give general guidelines on customer needs and behavior, allowing you to forecast what content will make users happy.

In general, smartphone users look for local information while they're on the go. In survey after survey, smartphone users want to know if a close physical location is open. One recent study showed that 92 percent of smartphone users searched for a restaurant. Content for these types of searches should include basic contact information – address, phone number and operating hours – as well as a short description of the location highlighting why a visitor should choose that location.

Other firms have taken a sectionalized approach to content. Full content is written with a desktop in mind, and just certain sections of that content are shown for mobile devices. This approach is excellent for small businesses who need the essence of their homepage text to appear on their mobile site. Why keep it short? Smartphone users, generally, want to fulfill an immediate need.

Tablets, however, are used in a very different way. A Pew Internet study found that less than 30 percent of users read long-form content on a smartphone whereas 80 percent of tablet users do.

The same study showed that 43 percent of Americans have read long-form content on the web. So long-form certainly has its place, and that place is the tablet. Tablet landing pages should offer links to ebooks, white papers and other long-form content to maximize this channel's strengths.

Just as mobile optimization covers how content is displayed, mobile content strategy ensures that the right content is shown within that optimized interface. While general trends prepare companies for what's on the horizon, mobile content strategy should be based off of current user patterns.

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Yandex Takes Exception To Search Malware Study

Yandex has taken exception to a recent study that reported it has more malware in its search results than other major search engines like Google and Bing.

The company shared its concerns with Search Engine Land via email, saying that it also sent the same response to AV-TEST, the German IT security firm that published the findings from an 18-month search/malware study. We reported on the study yesterday after PC Mag was first to report on it.

The AV-TEST study examined more than 13 million Yandex search results and found malware in about .024 percent — twice the percentage of malware it found in Bing’s search results, and 10 times more than in Google.

In its statement, Yandex says the study “does not provide in-depth information about the AV-Test research principles and methods,” and asks several questions:

How did they define what is malware and what is not?Did they take into account the fact that Yandex does not remove potentially malicious websites from its search results page, but rather notifies a user about potentially dangerous sites with a special mark in front of the link?Why is the sample volume of websites so different for some of the search engines tested?What does “malware found” mean? Is it what a search engine found and marked or is it what a researcher found unmarked by a search engine?What was the way for them to collect samples – is it XML or just regular parser?

Yandex says AV-TEST hasn’t responded to these questions yet.

Yandex’s statement explains that it checks more than 23 million web pages per day for malware, and shows searchers more than eight million warnings about possibly dangerous pages — statistics that are available on this Yandex infographic from January (2013). The statement also says that Yandex uses a “proprietary antivirus technology to protect users from malicious software. Yandex marks the infected webpages in its search results in order to notify users of unsafe content. We just notify users of possible consequences and do not block access to the webpage completely.” Yandex includes a link to a page that details its approach to infected websites.

New Google Analytics Interactive Tool: Customer Journey to Online Purchase

After releasing a barrage of new reports to help you understand attribution from multi-channel funnel reports, attribution modeling, and social data partners, Google realizes that site owners need to better understand customer journey from first visit through to conversion, no matter how long that takes. Google Analytics has launched a new tool, the Customer Journey to Online Purchase.

Visitors to your site likely won't convert on the first visit. And subsequent visits will likely originate from a variety of sources.

Your site visitors may click a display ad, perform an organic search, see a blog post or review or find an affiliate link. The new Customer Journey tool lets you interactively explore the typical online buying behavior of your site's visitors and see how different marketing interactions affect your sales and conversions.

This tool's data draws on multiple resources. Data is contributed from all Google Analytics clients that authorized sharing with other Google products. Ecommerce and multi-channel funnel data comes from more than 36,000 Analytics customers across 11 industries in 7 countries.

The data includes:

Purchase paths based on interactions with a single ecommerce advertiserHow different marketing channels help get your site visitors to convert better or fasterHow long it takes for customers to make a purchase online (in terms of visits and days)Benchmarks of various industries to help you compare your results to that within your industry.

The tool provides "lookback windows" from within the existing multi-channel funnels and the attribution modeling tool so you can go back and look at the typical length of the purchase path in your industry. This means you can compare your conversion times to see if your site is taking longer to convert than your industry's average.

These benchmarks are compiled together in the Benchmarks Dashboard. Use the benchmarks dashboard to view stats on your industry. Then compare those data points with your own in your multi-channel funnels reports. This gives you the best understanding of where different channels impact your conversions.

Using this data, you can adjust your marketing plan accordingly and change budgets or strategies between channels, if necessary.

You can start working with the Customer Journey to Online Purchase here.

Will you use it? Will you opt-out of sharing your data now that you know how its being used? Start the conversation in the comments below.

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6 Tools to Manage Your Twitter Followers

Managing Twitter followers can become a time consuming task, taking time away from actually sending messages and growing your influence. Here are six tools to save you time.


A little gem of a tool. Twepe, for a small cost, sends you a daily summary email of your Twitter follower activity, including new followers and lost followers, and alerts you immediately with an email of any mentions. The one alert it doesn't send is favorite tweets.

Twitter can do some of these things – but individually, so you receive an individual email for each follower gained (but not any lost) and any mentions. This can become overwhelming – personally I turn most Twitter notifications off and use Twepe instead.

Uses of Twepe include analyzing who you should follow back and spotting Twitter bots that follow you one day, and unfollow the next in the hope you have followed them back.


Similar to Twepe, but sending a weekly summary. Free now – with a planned paid version for multiple accounts.


Followerwonk offers several tools. You can analyze and chart your followers by age, message volume and other metrics; view and sort all of your followers in a spread sheet format, allowing you to see the most influential or least active; search Twitter bios of your followers and their followers; compare followers and analyze their activity, and unfollow without leaving the site.

There are free and paid versions of the product, the latter with more features.

Here's an example analysis for @SEWatch

Manage Flitter

Most Twitter accounts will be following accounts that don't follow them back or are inactive. These reduce the ratio of followers to followed accounts and make the account look less influential in the eyes of many. Finding and removing those that have no value to you manually is a waste of time.

That's where Manage Fitter comes in. This free tool scans your account (once you've given it permission) and then lists all of your followers. You can then sort them by volumes of followers, accounts they are following, the number of lists they are in and the volume of tweets they have sent. There are also filter options for accounts with no photo, that aren't in English or are quiet or very talkative.

Once you've sorted your followers the way you desire – I suggest inactive, no photo and not following back as three to start off with – you can then tick and bulk unfollow accounts in one go.

If you want to know more about an account, including volume of followers, following and messages, this is available by hovering the cursor over the username. It's useful, but annoying at times – I'd rather see this next to each account on the page, as opposed to having to move the cursor to each listing.


Tweepi is another tool for finding people who don't follow you back and unfollowing them, with features including the ability to enter a username, sort their followers or who they follow and then follow some of those accounts, follow accounts on another member's list or paste in a list of user names and review those accounts. These features are useful for growing the list of accounts you follow in the hope of gaining followers back.

Some of the more advanced features - including some Manage Flitter offer for free - are paid-for. Personally I find a combination of the two works best without paying a fee, based on what I'm trying to achieve.


Contaxio works across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ to varying degrees, determined by the functionality their individual APIs support.

Contaxio feels a more "serious" a product than some of the other Twitter tools out there - clean interface, support for multiple platforms and the ability to export data. As with most tools there are free and paid versions.

Features include the ability to analyze followers and your following and take action against those you select. There are a lot of features here worth checking out - the one "missing" sophisticated feature is the ability to see the overlap between profiles across networks, and added accounts on one platform you already follow on another.

The tool has free and premium versions.


Plenty of other Twitter tools are available - these are just a few that have useful features or have proved stable over time. No matter what tools you use, check what permission they request of your account before granting them, and, if you stop using them, log in into the Twitter site and remove their access. Watch out for tools that send a message from your account saying you are using the tool - there's normally a tick-box.

Want to recommend a tool? Leave a comment below.

Image Credit: Free Social Icons

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Report: PLAs Drove 28% Of Google Non-Brand Ad Clicks In Q4

Google Product Listing Ads generated 28% of Google non-brand clicks in Q4 according to RKG’s latest Digital Marketing Report released today. PLA CPCs were 26% lower than CPCs for competitive text ads.�RKG also found a larger than average gap between bids and actual CPCs for PLAs, suggesting competition is still relatively light.

Product Listing Ads are also having a big impact on non-brand Google ROI when compared to Bing. RKG reports, �As Google CPCs have declined overall and compared to Bing, the non-brand ROI for Google now stands 22% higher than that for Bing.�

Google Nonbrand Paid Search ROI Compared to� Bing










Source: RKG

Holiday Paid Search Revenue Trends

The report also looked at weekly trends in paid search revenue throughout the holiday season.� The chart below illustrates the spikes in consumer interest and paid search traffic during the 2012 holiday season. Paid search revenue accelerated around the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend and then slowed during early December before spiking nearly 50% in the last week before Christmas. Mobile paid search traffic had two clear spikes: one around Black Friday and another just after Christmas.

Paid Search Revenue By Week










Source: RKG

Overall Q4 Paid Search Performance

RKG reports that in Q4 paid search spending rose 23% and ad clicks were up 18% with a small 4% rise in CPCs. After negative growth in 2011, Bing spending rebounded in 2012. Bing Ads saw a 54% jump in overall spending and a 52% increase in non-brand spending in Q4. Google also saw growth, bolstered by the switch over to PLAs, and managed to stem its four quarter streak of CPC declines.









RKG reports that for four straight quarters Google has lost some paid search spend and click share to Bing. In Q4, Google still commanded 84% of spend and 83% of clicks, but that was down from 87% and nearly 86% respectively from the prior year.

Tablets and smartphones accounted for 19.5% of paid search clicks in Q4. Tablets just edged out smartphones with 10% of clicks vs. 9.5%. Mobile CPCs increased slightly relative to desktop. The average smartphone CPCs were 52% of desktop in Q4, while tablet CPCs continued to edge up and had near parity at 97% of desktop.





Google Expands Search Suggestions, Real-Time Search & Adds Refinements To Local Searches

The Google blog posted their weekly, “this week in search” announcing small but important changes released on Google search. They include expanding the search suggestions user interface internationally, adding more language support to real-time search, adding refinements to local search queries and introducing lists for bookmarks.

On, Google used a boldface for search suggestions, moved the “Google Search” and “I’m Feeling Lucky” buttons in the box and removed the the result counts a while back. Now, this interface and behavior is the default behavior for all Google international properties. That means it is available on 50 languages across all Google’s 170 domains.

Last week or the week before, Google began rolling out support for real-time search in more languages. This may not have been noticed by English-speakers, but it is something Google has been working hard on. Now, real-time search will be available for hot topics and trending topics on 40 languages.

Google is rolling out local search refinements. That means when you search for a local type query, Google may show you search refinements for that query. Google said the are rolling it out in the next couple days for 200 U.S. cities and will continue to expand them over time to more cities. Here is a picture of what the refinements look like for a search on [Maui]:

Finally, as we reported earlier this week, Google introduced bookmark lists.

Dropped In Rankings? Google’s Mistake Over Parked Domains Might Be To Blame

Search rankings got you down on Google recently? It’s not the expected over-optimization penalty, as some have been guessing at. Rather, Google may have thought your site was a “parked domain,” when it wasn’t.

Search forums like Webmaster World�and Google’s own search discussion areas�have had much discussion about recent drops in ranking, such as here,�here�and as summarized by Search Engine Roundtable.�Some have wondered if this was the release of what’s been dubbed an “over-optimization penalty” that Google previously said would be coming this year.

Whether that really will be a penalty of pages with too much SEO or more likely a tougher crackdown on actual spam remains to be seen. But in either case, that penalty isn’t what’s happened.

Rather, Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam team, said the change is due to Google mistakenly classifying some sites as being parked domains, domains that generally lack any content other than ads.

Cutts posted on Google+

I saw a recent post where several sites were asking about their search rankings. The short explanation is that it turns out that our classifier for parked domains was reading from a couple files which mistakenly were empty. As a result, we classified some sites as parked when they weren’t.

I apologize for this; it looks like the issue is fixed now, and we’ll look into how to prevent this from happening again.

At the end of last year, Google announced that it would be targeting parked domains or “placeholder” sites so that they wouldn’t rank as well.

Related ArticlesGoogle: Parked Domains, Scraper Sites Targeted Among New Search ChangesToo Much SEO? Google�s Working On An “Over-Optimization” Penalty For ThatIs Google�s “Over Optimization Penalty” Its “Jump The Shark” Moment In Web Search?New: Google Rich Snippet Tool Allows HTML Input & Product Snippets Go GlobalGoogle�s March Updates: Anchor Text, Image Search, Navigational Search & MoreGoogle Sending Warnings About “Artificial” Or “Unnatural” LinksGoogle: No, We Don�t Use Akismet To Catch Link Spam

Google’s Gags Go Worldwide For April Fool’s Day 2012

It was right about this time last year when we gave Google the winner’s trophy for a series of gags that put all others to shame.

We could do the same again right now, because Google has tried to top itself with another round of April Fool’s Day jokes that pretty well span the globe of Google’s international properties. Below is a recap of Google’s (and a few others) pranks, and we’ll do our best to update this as the day goes along.

Google Racing: Self-Driving Cars Hit NASCAR

The main joke at the moment is Google’s “announcement” of a partnership with NASCAR called Google Racing, which brings Google’s self-driving cars to NASCAR race tracks “by the middle of next season.”

There’s also a faux news video about Google Racing (with no embed code – the cruelest joke of all!) starring Jeff Gordon and a couple other NASCAR drivers, not to mention Sergey Brin pretending to be Google’s first NASCAR driver … or whatever you call the person who doesn’t actually drive the car.

And if you go to, the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button has been renamed “I’m Steering Lucky” and there’s a link to the Google Racing microsite.

Google Maps In 8-Bit For NES

Google’s pranks began early this morning with a blog post announcing that Google Japan has created an 8-bit version of Google Maps for the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

You can relive all your favorite 1980s graphics by clicking the “Quest” button in the upper right corner on

Google Street Roo

In Australia, where Google Street View cars and trikes can’t get to remote areas of the continent, Google says it’ll use kangaroos with mini-cameras mounted on their noggins to photograph the Australian outback. They’re calling it Google Street Roo. Hopefully the 1,000-plus kangaroos won’t mistakenly collect any personal data via wifi while they’re hopping across Australia.

Google China: Underwater Search

I said it was worldwide, right? Well, even Google China has gotten in the act with an underwater search gag. It’s more like a Google doodle than a prank, though.

Google’s Really Advanced Search

Speaking of search, this one will probably go over well with our audience. Google’s really advanced search page has some pretty funny options, like this:

You can also narrow your results based on what font the page uses, what textured background the page has and which “embarrassing grammatical faux pas” is found on the page. If you’re into SEO, you’ll like this one. You may even find yourself wishing that the page actually worked.

Google Search: Weather Control

Another search gag: Google Weather Control. Type in any weather-related search (like “seattle weather”) and you can make the weather anything you want it to be. You can turn Seattle into Phoenix, if you’d like.

Google AdWords: Click-to-Teleport

The AdWords team has a new extension called Click-to-Teleport that lets “potential customers to instantly teleport to your business location directly from a search ad.”

The YouTube Collection

YouTube’s annual April Fool’s Day prank is the YouTube Collection — all of YouTube on DVD. Once you order, 175 trucks will deliver the DVDs right to your door. Oh, just watch the video. Make your checks payable to “Matt McGee” if you’re planning to order.

Play Music In Google Analytics

I’m not seeing this (yet?) in my Google Analytics account, but this Aussie blog says there’s a little music icon on the Visitors Overview page in Google Analytics. You can play a piano or sitar while enjoying (or bemoaning) your website’s performance.

Google Chrome Multitask Mode

The Google Chrome team thinks one mouse/hand isn’t enough for web browsing, so they’ve launched Multitask Mode — two mice/hands at once.

Gmail Tap

Gmail Tap converts your keyboard from 26 letters to just two — dots and dashes, just like Morse code.

Google Fiber Bar

Forget that fiber optic network thing. Google Fiber is actually just a fiber-filled candy bar that helps you be up to 100 times more productive than ever before.

That’s Not All…

There are other search-related April Fool’s Day gags, perhaps my favorite of which is Google Nigeria, which jokingly asks you to input your bank account number so you can “search for inheritance.”

Don’t be alarmed: the search box just runs a normal Google search (not that you’d actually put your bank account number in there, anyway, right?) and, while this is NOT an official Google gag, it also doesn’t appear to be run by some Nigerian prince. (It’s a production from

There’s also, which lets you make a fake Google search result page with whatever website (and title/snippet) you want in the No. 1 spot.

Flickr has announced that all photos can now be seen in the 1980s style “Atkinson dither,” accessible via a small button in the lower right part of any photo page.

And last, and probably not least, the folks at Reddit announced “reddit timeline,” which brings a touch of Facebook to the proceedings and is pretty funny — especially when you click on “1970s” and get the animated rainbow header, along with “news” about Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the war in Vietnam.

And now that April Fool’s Day has actually begun … time to sign-off, at least until the next prank comes along.


As expected, we have a few more pranks to add and they all come from Google. Here you go!

GoRo: Google Mobile

Google Mobile has introduced a program called GoRo — the name is a play on the actual “Go Mo” campaign — that encouraged business owners to learn how to optimize their websites for rotary phones. Why? Because “technology is cyclical.”

Google Analytics: Interplanetary Reporting

Google Analytics jokingly wrote about a sneak preview of “interplanetary reports” that let website owners “understand visitor activities from neighboring stars and planets.”

Interplanetary reports will be rolled out in 2030, Google says, “when we anticipate local space travel becomes widespread.” Heh. Watch them be right about that part.

Google AdWords: Planetary Targeting

The AdWords folks didn’t stop just with Click-to-Teleport (see above). Oh no, there’s more. If you login to your AdWords account and edit location settings on one of your campaigns, you’ll see a joke about being able to do planetary targeting.

And yes, if you follow through and type “Mars,” for examplem, it shows up as one of the targeting options. There’s even a fake support page explaining how it all “works.”

At least I think it’s fake. Who can tell anymore?

Chitika: iPad Leads Tablets With Web Usage But Only Has A 1.02% CTR On Ads

Chitika published a study today on tablet device usage share and the click through rate (CTR) on ads based on screen size.

The study showed that 8 inch tablets such as Vizio and Pantech had the highest level of click through rates but the lowest level of web usage rates. Similarly, the 8.9 inch tablets such as Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 and the Archos 9 had the second highest click through rates with the second lowest rate of Web usage rates.

Apple’s iPad is the leader on click through rate when it comes to measuring a single tablet device despite size. The iPad lead the 9.7″ tablet category to a 1.02% click through rate. The iPad made up over 90% of Chitika’s tablet traffic data in their ad network, so they decided to break out the data with and without iPad.

Here are some charts:

The key takeaway for advertisers is that screen size and tablet type plays a large role in the expected click through rate on your ads.

Google-Oracle Jury Begins Deliberations in Patent Case

The high-profile patent infringement battle between Google and Oracle has entered jury deliberations. The juror panel will now decide whether Google infringed on Oracle's Java patents in developing its Android mobile platform.

The deliberations mean that the U.S. District Court proceedings could be nearing an end. The two companies have for weeks argued their sides in a case which has included testimony from top executives on both sides.

Oracle has argued in the case that Google knowingly lifted portions of its Java platform for use in Android without seeking to obtain a licence. Google has countered that any Java code used in Android didn't require a license.

The hearing has also provided insight to the inner workings of both Google and Sun, with evidence and testimony suggesting that neither company could agree internally on whether Android violated Sun patents and would require a license.

Florian Mueller, an intellectual property law blogger who has been following the case, said that the instructions from Judge William Alsup and the language used in the document had been hotly debated by both sides in the case.

"[Alsup] adopted various proposals from both parties, but neither party will be completely satisfied with it," Mueller explained in a post on the FOSS Patents blog. "Depending on which party wins the verdict, we'll almost certainly see an appeal unless there's a settlement."

 Google vs. Oracle HistoryAndy Rubin & Eric Schmidt Take Stand in Google-Oracle TrialGoogle CEO: Android Not a Critical AssetGoogle-Oracle $1 Billion Android Patent Trial BeginsOracle Rejects Google’s $3 Million Offer to Settle Patent DisputeOracle Copyright Suit Seeks Billions from Google

This article was originally published on V3.

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International Expansion: Break Down Barriers With Google+ Hangouts

Expanding internationally is extremely challenging. You may want to consider building out an international presence to help your business grow for many years to come, but it isn't always easy – you have to deal with different time zones, languages, and cultures.

So how can you successfully break down the barriers between you and your clients, customers, or your own staff? One way is with Google+ Hangouts.

An Overview of Google+ Hangouts

For those who are unfamiliar, Hangouts is a feature of Google+ that lets you video chat with other Google+ users. In other words, it is a VoIP service allowing you to talk through the Internet. If everyone has a camera or a webcam on their computer, then everyone involved in the chat will be able to see each other and interact virtual face to virtual face.

So why do you want to use Google+ hangouts as part of your international strategy?

Google+ Hangouts work wonderfully for businesses that work with international clients because you can chat with so many different people at once. It allows you all to collaborate, ask questions, have meetings, and even host educational webinars with those who can't make it to your country (let alone your office).

With Skype, chatting with more than one person at once requires a subscription, but you can chat with up to 10 people for free when you join a Google+ Hangout. It's as simple as that.

Many of us travel as part of the job. One time when I was overseas in Sydney, Australia, I was struggling with a revision. Rather than exchanging a long string of emails, a five-minute Hangout at 5 a.m. with my boss solved the issue and got the project back on track.

Plus, look no further than NASA, which held its first Google+ Hangout on February 22 with a few astronauts living on the International Space Station. If that doesn't prove how versatile, and frankly how cool Hangouts can be, then I don't know what does.

Tips to Using Google+ Hangouts to Improve Your international Relationships

Let's look at five typical hardships companies face with international clients and tips on how using Google+ Hangouts can help break down these barriers:

1. Eliminate a Geographic Barrier

This is the most obvious way that video chatting can be helpful. You can be in one place despite the fact that your customers/clients or partners are in another. This offers the same benefit that email can, but we all know that sometimes meetings are best when people can collaborate and all focus on one task at once.

Example: Let's say you're located in New York City, and your client is located in Sydney. In-person meetings just aren't feasible, and there's a slight time difference to deal with. Emails make it difficult to stay focused, whereas Hangouts allow you to have that in-person feel where you can stay on task. Essentially, you get to avoid the endless email threads that get off topic.

2. Break Through a Language Barrier

Language is one of the biggest barriers that companies have to face when dealing with international customers/clients. Google+ Hangouts allow you to involve a native translator into the Hangout no matter where he/she might be located.

This can be difficult on the phone or through email, and online translation services are not always reliable, so face-to-face interaction is incredibly important. You shouldn't have to sacrifice this simply because of geographic hurdles, and Google+ makes it possible.

Example: If you're doing business with Japan, you're going to want a translator to help you translate Japanese into English and vice versa. Let's say you're based in Tennessee and there just isn't a good Japanese translator in town. Instead of flying him/her in to help with a meeting you have with your Japanese clients, you can just invite them into your Google+ Hangout (after all, it should be your responsibility as the company to figure out communication, not the clients'). Then all three of you – you the English speakers, your clients the Japanese speakers, and the translator – can communicate easier without having to rely on the sub-par Internet translations.

3. Create an Interactive Demonstration

One of the biggest benefits when chatting with anyone online is the ability to record your demonstrations or conferences so that everyone has the ability to review.

Email also serves this purpose, but if you're showing someone how to do something then a little bit of interaction might be necessary. You could send an email with a video of you demonstrating something or having a conference, but that doesn't allow for any interjections.


If you're an advertising agency or you need to do a pitch of some sort to clients, you're going to want to have a presentation complete with examples. Your tone of voice and the way you present something is going to be important, so a Hangout is a must if traveling to the client is not an option. Now let's say that client has other meetings and presentations to hear. If this is the case, they may want to record your Hangout and revisit it later. This also works great if someone on your team or someone on his/her team couldn't make the meeting. The easy recording is convenient (this idea really applies to all meetings; not just international). Below is a screenshot of where you can find the “record" button:

You need to have a verified YouTube account to make this happen. If you're the one recording (which you likely will be), then it's you that needs the account, not your client. Once that's set, you can verify, and then you're ready to hit the big red “record" button that will show up on your Hangout.

4. Communicate Whenever, Wherever

This is another benefit that email can offer, but again, if you're looking for that interaction and face-to-face experience, Google+ Hangouts is your answer. It goes with you wherever you have the Internet and a computer, so you can host a Hangout at home or (unfortunately for some of us) when you're on vacation. 

Example: If you're doing business with Japan, when it's 3 p.m. their time, it's only 1 a.m. your time. If you really want to talk with this client, and you're the only one who needs to be there (as opposed to your whole team), you might just want to wake up at that time if it's the only time that works for the client. Look nice and be awake, but don't feel like you have to be in the office.

5. Overcome Cultural Differences

You can be more observant about types of language, body language, and environment when you're seeing and hearing something (as opposed to just reading).

Example: Too many times I have spoken with someone of a different culture and thought they were being short with me through email. Seeing the way that someone speaks helps you to see that they are smiling and/or they are interested in what you have to say – they're just not interested in bothering with the “how are you doing, I'm doing well" waste-of-time American stuff.

Google+ Hangouts should be able to help you get a feel for the culture of whomever you're speaking with. Understanding cultural differences is going to be incredibly important when it comes time to sell your products and optimize your website (or even understand a potential new partner), so take Google+ Hangouts as an opportunity to be observant and see what you can discover aside from just what you read online.

There are many other features that work great for any business in general, and with international relationships you may consider using some of the following more often:

Set up a conference.Host a webinar.Conduct an interview.Do question-and-answer sessions.Have an office meeting.

Along with Hangouts, you should make sure that you are changing other aspects of your company, such as your SEO, and utilizing other tools and tactics to be successful overseas. You can learn more about aspects of international SEO here.


Google+ Hangouts are easy to use and great when it comes time to communicate with international clients because it allows you to:

Give them the same attention and process you would give someone local.Helps with geographic barriers.Helps with language barriers.Helps utilize culture differences to your advantage as opposed to just being a source of confusion.

Have you ever used Google+ Hangouts to aid your international efforts? Was there anything that you felt worked well or could have worked better? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.

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Google Doodle Spotlights Ella Fitzgerald

The "Queen of Jazz" is in the spotlight today on Google's homepage. A colorful Google Doodle pays tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, who was born on this date 96 years ago. The American jazz vocalist won 13 Grammy awards and sold 40 million albums.

Google's logo depicts Fitzgerald front and center on a stage, with the letters making up Google's name serving as stage props in the background behind various musicians.

Fitzgerald, also dubbed "The First Lady of Song", recorded more than 200 albums during her career that began on an Amateur Night at the Apollo in Harlem, New York, in 1934, and ended with her last concert in 1991 at Carnegie Music Hall in New York City. You can read her full bio on the Official Website of Ella Fitzgerald.

Doodler Betsy Bauer detailed the making of the Doodle, The logo is actually a papercraft illustration that was lit by colored LED lights. Here's what the Doodle looked like in production:

And here's how it was lit:

"Ms. Fitzgerald’s songs are soulful, jazzy, and create a very particular mood when played," Bauer explained. "I wanted to make sure that my doodle captured that essence. I chose to create the doodle out of cut paper because I knew that I could use this technique to imitate real stage-lighting and theatricality."

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Brands Gone Wild: Social Media Marketing Fails & Lessons Learned

So you want your campaign to go viral�

Let�s keep in mind your business objectives, shall we? As these social marketing fails will show, campaigns may take off but go seriously sideways if companies place popularity above purpose.

Some companies can afford more risk and racier campaigns than others, yet risk in business must always be mitigated and justifiable based on the potential rewards. You might disagree with my opinion on the campaigns featured in this post, but I believe the risks should have been evident from the start and far outweighed the potential payoff.

These examples may cause you to shake your head, or enjoy a good belly laugh, but each is a fantastic learning opportunity for social media marketers.

Money Can’t Buy You Love – nor Common Sense

We�ll kick off with KFC�s #IatetheBones. Fried chicken execs are literally throwing everything they�ve got at their viral tagline, which they expect to be the next �Where�s the Beef?� Launched April 14th, the campaign has invested in it an estimated $50 million budget, Interpublic�s DraftFCB agency and an Academy Award winning director for the ads. Considering this tagline is to take them boldly into their new position as a boneless chicken brand, the budget and scope are not all that surprising.

Why, then, did no one stop to consider the potential negative effects of associating a food brand with sexual innuendo and dead bodies? Worse still, did they consider it and decide it was worth rolling the dice? When you read the user-generated content on #IatetheBones, that a food brand would approve of the association puts KFC squarely in Quizno�s horrendous �2 Girls, 1 Sub� space.

As I�m writing this, one sentiment analysis tool puts the amount of positive buzz around #IatetheBones at just 51%. Compare that to 80% positive sentiment for the @kfc brand itself on Twitter. The hashtag sentiment analysis came from a sample of 50 tweets, so I tried another tool to compare, which analyzed in real-time and came up with 74% negativity around the #IatetheBones hashtag.

Apparently the hashtag did well in test markets and inspired people to go online and share videos and comments. Unfortunately, people are sharing memes of people choking on chicken bones, or Hannibal Lecter:

They�re resurfacing years-old animal rights videos and tagging them with #IatetheBones, making those videos appear in social search again with this new campaign. They�re blindly tweeting on the hashtag with no message at all, trying to make it trend. Is this convincing anyone to go buy boneless or think better of the brand? Probably not when they�re sharing tweets about how much fun they�re having with their chicken and dead girls:

Did no one on the entire team it took to put all of this together realize or even care that �bone� invites all kinds of not-even-subtle phallic and cannibalistic commentary?

�Where�s the Beef?� worked because it�s catchy, cute and relatable. Everyone has a beef at some point. We�re not all going to eat the bones. Ya dig?

Then, I could be completely wrong. Maybe this one really will take off and KFC will have ushered in a new pop culture catchphrase as the result of their clever marketing. I still think it seems far more likely the conversation is going to continue its downward spiral, finally crashing and burning at the precise point that reading the tweets on #IatetheBones would make Tommy Lee blush.

If You Want to Gamble on User-Generated Content, At Least Be Sure Customers Like You

Moving right along, another memorable social campaign fail also came from a fast food giant � THE fast food giant � by way of #McDStories. McDonalds� campaign kicked off innocently enough, with two tweets sharing stories about their employees, food and suppliers.

The problem with viral marketing is that it takes users generating and sharing content to make it popular. As McDonald�s learned, you just never know what people are going to share. #McDStories tweets told tales of everything from throwing up Happy Meals to animal abuse to things I can�t even type as they make me a bit queasy.

Is that good branding? Is the gamble on a viral tagline worth potentially damaging your brand to the point people are still talking about the episode over a year later? I�m guessing in McDonald�s case, their sales didn�t suffer too terribly, though you have to wonder if their investment was money well spent. McDonald�s later admitted that �#mcdstories did not go as planned.� Fail.

A Reputation Takes Years to Build and One Stupid Social Campaign to Destroy

Next up:

Yes, friends, this actually happened. Some social media rocket scientist thought this was a good thing to post to Belvedere�s Facebook and Twitter pages. �Do I even need to elaborate? No, the portrayal of a rape scene is not a good endorsement for your alcoholic beverage. Spokespeople for the company were sorry. Unfortunately, this was so ill-conceived – and there were so many stops along the way someone should have thrown up a roadblock – that no one really cared how sorry they were.

Other dishonorable mentions for social media campaigns that should never have seemed a good idea, even at the time, go to:

American Apparel for their completely classless Hurricane Sandy sale.Microsoft for asking Windows Phone Twitter followers to share horror stories about Android phones on the hashtag #DroidRage. Followers virtually ripped off Microsoft�s arms and verbally beat them with the stumps, leaving a bloody trail of Windows jabs in their wake.Kia for attempting to ride the coattails of the popular Cheezburger brand with a meme campaign that had one user tell the auto brand to �Get off of the internet.�

The moral of the story, marketers, is that you can probably pull off something wildly popular and crazy and risqu� if you try hard enough and throw enough money at it� but do you really want to? Part of any campaign worth its salt is a critical evaluation of each element and any potential risks. Are those risks manageable? Is it really worth the risk when you can’t control your social audience?

Plan to Succeed and Never Appear in a Fail Blog

First, consider the purpose of your social marketing strategy. You may be trying to:

gain insight into your communitybuild brand visibility and authorityinfluence buyerspromote products and servicesdrive traffic to your websiteincrease search visibility

…or some combination thereof. Once you’ve established your goals, you’ll plan to employ specific tactics to help your brand achieve them. A social media marketing checklist like this one Lee Odden created and shared can help you get the right people and processes in place to execute your plan. As you implement, measure, and hopefully improve your social strategy, it’s important to remember your social presence is an extension of your business presence. You can’t get away with any more online than on television or radio; the same people are listening and they see everything you do online in an instant.

Whether all of your planning and social management takes place in-house or with the assistance of an agency, you must protect your brand. Work with professionals who value your reputation as much as you do. Choose agency partners that value performance, brand loyalty and measurable results over cutesy campaigns and “buzz.”

If you’re not sure, stop. Just stop. Calculated risk is one thing. Diving head first into issues you don’t understand (or have no real reason to talk about) simply because they’re popular or trending is an invitation for a social PR disaster – and we’ve seen plenty lately. Share the most memorable social fails you’ve seen in the comments!

Top image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Foursquare’s Crowley Can Feel Foursquare Fatigue, Has Plans To Fix It

Feeling Foursquare fatigue and perhaps wondering what’s the point of checking in at times? Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley sometimes feels it too — but he’s got plans to keep you interested. More on that as well as turning Foursquare into a “product building machine,” from my interview with him last week.

Why Check In?

I’ve had a few long-time Foursquare users I know tell me they’re tired of the service, that they don’t really find it as fun or interesting to check in any more. I’ve felt that way myself, at times.

Maybe we’re only a tiny slice of Foursquare’s nearly 5 million users that feel this way. But I wondered what Crowley thought and put it to him as we talked at Foursquare’s headquarters in New York last week.

Crowley surprised me. He’s the head of Foursquare, yet even he wonders at times, “Why bother?”

“I was at the Orlando airport at 11:30 at night recently. I’m thinking, ‘I’m not going to get the mayorship, there’s nobody nearby to alert that I’m here.’ So why check in?” Crowley said.

Building The Next Generation

The answer is coming. Fueled by recent investment, Crowley said that Foursquare is now able develop a next generation of ways for people to find the service useful, interesting and fun.

“There are things, a road map we have and the vision of what we have to build. That’s the frustrating part. Building a product is easy. But building the company that builds the product is hard,” he said.

Facebook hadn’t yet announced its latest location services moves when I talked with Crowley last Wednesday. However, Facebook had already launched Facebook Places in the summer, which made some question if Foursquare could survive in the long term. Did Crowley see his internal changes as helping push back competitive concerns? Definitely.

Product Building Machine

“When you build a machine that turns out products, the machine is going to get more efficient each month,” he said. “If we get that running the way we want, we’ll be rolling stuff out very quickly, and it will be very hard to compete with us.”

Foursquare is “getting close,” Crowley said, to being the product producing machine he wants. So what are the next products or changes on the road map? First, getting what’s out there improved.

“Some things don’t fully work the way we want them too. Part of it is we’ve grown so quickly, hitting nearly 5 million users. We need to go back and fix some of the core things that differentiate Foursquare from others in the space,” Crowley said.

Getting Past Easter Eggs & Becoming A “What To Do” Guide

This fits into the “three acts” that Crowley describes Foursquare as moving through, as it has grown.

“First, everyone checks in and gets positions and badges. Act two is moving Foursquare from check-ins as the only things to do to making lists of things to do. Act three is taking stuff from first two adventures and tightening up in ways that incent people, reward, and offer ways they can discover,” Crowley said.

For example, it can be unclear to people why exactly they’ll win a badge. To get the “I’m on a boat” badge, you either need to check into a location that’s tagged as being a boat or check in and “shout” something to your friends with the word “boat” in it, depending on which unofficial source you check.

Foursquare lacks an official guide on how to earn badges, in part because it wants people to be surprised. But these “Easter Eggs,” computer jargon for hidden things that turn up if you know the secret code, can also be an issue.

“Some of these are a little Easter-eggy, and we could do a better job. If I’ve landed in New York, Foursquare should be like, “There are three badges you haven’t gotten. Here are three of your friends, and here are four things you should do,” Crowley said.

Instant Check-Ins, Better Deals

After our interview, Crowley immediately dashed off to speak at the ad:tech conference in New York. Mashable has nice coverage of that, where he talked further about things like customized recommendations:

“Based upon these bars that you�ve been to, these are six other bars you may be interested in.”

Or instant check-ins:

“We�ve done experiments where when you go into a familiar place, [your phone] should buzz you and say �Oh, you�re at that coffee shop again. Do you wanna check in.”

He also talked about making it easier for people to find brands to follow on Foursquare as well as bringing in better deals and specials for users.

Study: Insurance, Loan-Related Keywords Are Google’s Cash Cows

Insurance-related keywords are the source of 24% of Google’s AdWords revenue, with the highest CPC coming in at a whopping $54.91, according to a study by search marketing company WordStream. The company used its own keyword database and the Google Keyword Tool to come up with the top 10,000 most expensive English-language keywords over a 90-day period.

Examples of key phrases in the Insurance category included “buy car insurance online” and “auto insurance price quotes.”

Next in line came the Loans category, commanding 12.8% of revenue with CPCs as high as $44.28. Typical keywords in Loans include “consolidate graduate student loans,” and “fixed home equity loan rates.” Third was the “Mortgage” category, which, one supposes, could have been put together with Loans. As its own category, Mortgages represented 9% of revenue, with the highest CPM coming in at $47.12.

Rounding out the top 10 categories, in order of percentage of revenue represented, include Attorney, Credit, Lawyer, Donate, Degree, Hosting and Claim. Again, Attorney and Lawyer could be argued to be a single category, but WordStream broke them into two separate buckets.

Clearly, the categories representing the highest revenue potential for Google — with both high CPCs and high volume — are those with large potential customer bases wiling to pay the most to acquire a customer. These are advertisers for whom acquiring a customer represents a substantial reward, either because it is an expensive purchase or because the customer has a high lifetime value.

Here’s the full top 20 with the highest search volume and CPC, via WordStream:

Insurance (example keywords in this category include “buy car insurance online” and “auto insurance price quotes”)Loans (example keywords include “consolidate graduate student loans” and “cheapest homeowner loans”)Mortgage (example keywords include “refinanced second mortgages” and “remortgage with bad credit”)Attorney (example keywords include “personal injury attorney” and “dui defense attorney”)Credit (example keywords include “home equity line of credit” and “bad credit home buyer”)Lawyer (“personal injury lawyer,” “criminal defense lawyer)Donate (“car donation centers,” “donating a used car”)Degree (“criminal justice degrees online,” “psychology bachelors degree online”)Hosting (“hosting ms exchange,” “managed web hosting solution”)Claim (“personal injury claim,” “accident claims no win no fee”)Conference Call (“best conference call service,” “conference calls toll free”)Trading (“cheap online trading,” “stock trades online”)Software (“crm software programs,” “help desk software cheap”)Recovery (“raid server data recovery,” “hard drive recovery laptop”)Transfer (“zero apr balance transfer,” “credit card balance transfer zero interest”)Gas/Electricity (“business electricity price comparison,” “switch gas and electricity suppliers”)Classes (“criminal justice online classes,” “online classes business administration”)Rehab (“alcohol rehab centers,” “crack rehab centers”)Treatment (“mesothelioma treatment options,” “drug treatment centers”)Cord Blood (“cordblood bank,” “store umbilical cord blood”)

Here’s WordStream’s infographic summarizing its data:

How to Handle the AdWords Ad Rotation Changes

A collective slapping sound could be heard all across the PPC industry yesterday. You might have heard it.. It was quite loud. It was the sound of thousands of AdWords account managers doing a massive *facepalm* over the news that Google was changing, in the most idiotic way possible, something that has been fundamental to AdWords accounts since Day 1: Google Ad Rotation.

Goodbye, Rotate: Show Ads More Evenly

Just as SEOs were seeing that sites were failing due to Google's Penguin Update, here comes news that Google is set to change the functionality of one of the most essential tools in any PPC managers bag.

Here's what Google said (think the Inside AdWords blog commenting is disabled for a reason?) about their changes in Ad Rotation:

Starting next week, the “rotate” setting for ad rotation will change. Instead of rotating creatives for an indefinite period of time, this setting will only rotate for a period of 30 days. After that, the setting will then optimize to show the ads expected to generate the most clicks. Every time a creative is enabled or edited, the ads in that ad group will rotate more evenly for a new period of 30 days.

This change will be rolling out next week. At that time, ad groups with creatives that haven’t been added or modified in the past thirty days will see this new ad rotation behavior. Otherwise, this change will begin 30 days after your last creative was enabled or edited.

Wow. Really?

Ask anyone who has been involved in AdWords to any extent and they will tell you that this is a very treasured and fundamental tool for any PPC marketer. (Although some recommended just saying no to ad rotation.)

Google AdWords Ad Rotation

Here is how Google has been handling Ad Delivery rotation for PPC and why it's important:

Since at least 2008, the default setting for ad rotation for AdWords has been to "Optimize for Clicks". The other option at the time was to "Rotate: Show Ads More Evenly".

Between the two options (which most advertisers didn't even know was a choice), it would seem that the one that made the most sense was the "Optmize for Clicks" option. It's on by default and after running an AdWords campaign for a while you could look at your metrics and clearly see that Ad 1 performed better than your Ad 2 variation. Why? Ad 1 got more clicks, was shown more often because of that and.. who would guess it? It got more clicks! Obviously it was better because of the fact that the copy for Ad 1 was so much more compelling than the other ad, right?

Not exactly.

In early 2011, Google announced a new AdWords setting: Optimize for Conversions. This promised to:

"Show ads that are expected to provide more conversions more often."

This sounds even better, right?

Trust Google to not just show the ads that have a better click-through rate (CTR) but those that would actually convert better (via AdWords conversion metrics).

I can almost hear the sound of a thousand empty hands clapping. But I'm sure that this romanticized lingo must have resonated with a lot of advertisers and truth be told, it isn't horrible. Sometimes it can even help you. At the very least, it, like everything in PPC is worth testing. That's why this latest change is so upsetting.

Here are your options with Ad Rotation through Google:

All of this likely fell under the radar of most advertisers as it's all sorta hidden at the bottom of Advanced Campaign Settings through your AdWords interface. Of all the small/medium businesses I've worked with, somewhere between 0 and 1 percent knew that these options even existed.

PPC account managers have long known that the key to proper testing of ads lies in your ability to test ads head to head. Serve 1 ad 50 percent of the time and another 50 percent of the time and you'll learn which ad copy is actually bringing in the best CTR. Give it some time (depending on your amount of traffic) and you'll really understand the AdWords Ads which work vs. those that don't.

Now Google is giving you 30 days per ad to run those tests. For low volume or niche targets that is nowhere near enough time to draw accurate conclusions.

For agencies, this 30-day limit presents itself as a logistical nightmare. With thousands of ads running across hundreds of campaigns, each potentially on a different schedule – seriously, my head hurts just thinking about it!

Is This the End of Testing Your Ads?

By all means, no. But it's potentially the end of doing things the same way.

Hopefully, Acquisio or Marin might bring something to the table to help out or provide a workaround in some way, but until such time and in the absence of a budget for a software solution there are still a few things you can do.

Get on a different ad testing schedule that is less than 30 days. Set calendar alerts or whatever you do to remind yourself. This should work with campaigns that get a fair amount of traffic and perhaps it will be even beneficial as it could force you to be more rigorous with your Ad testing.Get familiar (if you aren't already) with AdWords Campaign Experiments, commonly referred to as ACE. Campaign Experiments can be found at the very bottom of your Settings and they allow you to test a variety of things for a time period of up to 3 months per experiment.

It's nowhere near as straightforward as what one might hope, but it's a powerful tool that you should familiarize yourself with. With ACE, instead of just setting your ads up to rotate evenly, you can actually split test two versions of a campaign or ad group simultaneously.

Here are some additional resources to help you learn more about Google ACE and how you might make this work for your Ad testing:

5 Things to Try to With Google AdWords Campaign ExperimentsAdWords Campaign Experiments: Details and PitfallsGoogle Official: Step 1: Set up experiments in ACEGoogle Official: Step 2: Defining your experimental changes (video)Google Official: Step 3: Monitoring your experiment (video)

Best of luck and I can only hope that Google will come to its senses and change this back. They won't, of course, but we can hope right? In the meantime, wear some soft gloves so you don't end up with hand prints on your face.

If you have any suggestions of other ways that PPC account managers can tackle this issue, or if you just want to voice your opinion, please tell us in the comments below!

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Google News Plays The Badge Achievement Game

Google News announced you can now earn badges for reading news on Google News. The badges are awarded by topic, such as stock market, Apple, Harry Potter, U.S. Politics and so on. The more you read about a specific topic through Google News, the higher the badge reaches. It starts at Bronze and goes to Silver, Gold, Platinum and then Ultimate.

Here is a video demoing the feature:


I personally was granted the achievement of the Apple badge:

Your badges are private by default, you however share your badges with your friends. You can also add custom sections by hovering on a badge and clicking “add section”. To get started with badges, visit Google News from a signed-in account with web history enabled and then visit this page the instructions page for more details.

Related Stories:Google News Gets A Bit More PersonalGoogle News Adds Expandable Clusters, Story Labels, & More To Home PageLook Out Blogs: Google News Gains Options To Drop Blogs & Press ReleasesGoogle News Testing Twitter Integration With “Friends”Google News Adds “Follow News” Button, Easy Way To Customize Home Page