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Google Ads has recently announced that it now allows ads to be served for queries that it understands to share the same meaning on broad modified and phrase match keywords.
For bigger advertisers, this is probably not a huge concern, as they are not limited by budget. Being visible for a wider range of search terms without having to add thousands of keyword variations can only be a good thing.
But what about those with limited budgets, and those in niche industries that need to target very specific keywords?
While there will undoubtedly be challenges to overcome in light of these changes, there are also likely to be opportunities.
1. Spend may increase
An increase in impressions is likely to equate to more clicks, which is fine if these clicks go on to convert. But with Google determining how relevant a search term is to the keywords in your campaigns, just how much could spend skyrocket if left unchecked?
Neil Andrew from AdTech startup PPC Protect, says:
“These changes are definitely going to result in a massive increase in irrelevant and even invalid traffic on Google Ads accounts that aren’t actively managed/monitored. Our internal analysis on this shows up to 20% increases in budget usage from the change in broad/phrase match keywords, the vast majority of which isn’t relevant to a conversion action. As a SaaS platform provider, we are in a unique position to analyse this.
We have over 35,000 Google Ads accounts connected to our system currently, and we have had a number of users notice an uptick in both wasted spend and irrelevant traffic. We’ve also seen a large share of this traffic be invalid – mostly from bot activity and competitor clicking activity. It seems like narrow niche targeting is getting tougher to achieve by the day.”
2. Impressions may be wasted on irrelevant search terms
If you’re using a target impression share bid strategy, now might be the time to review it as this might impact impression share metrics.
Impressions may now include ads triggered by keywords that Google determines to have the same meaning (unless they are added as negatives). Just how much impression share is Google going to give to variants, rather than the keywords actually in the campaign?
3. Irrelevant terms/keywords would need to be revisited and reviewed
Ads showing for irrelevant terms/keywords that are already in the account that were tested earlier and paused due to poor performance are a major bugbear of mine.
I’ve noticed keywords that have been tested previously, and paused, can still be shown as a close match. So if you have keywords that you’ve paused because they historically haven’t worked well, you’ll now need to check if Google is still serving ads for the keyword and exclude it.
This means you’ll end up with keywords that state both added and excluded.
4. More time will need to be spent on analyzing search term reports and building negative keyword lists
Yes, analyzing search term reports is absolutely something that all PPC managers should be doing on a regular basis. However, having to check search term reports daily to exclude the keywords an advertiser doesn’t want to serve ads for is going to be time-consuming, especially on large accounts, taking time away from managing and optimizing other aspects of a campaign.
Sam Kessenich, Chief Digital Officer, RyTech, is already noticing impressions ramp up.
“Regarding the most recent changes to keyword targeting, without a doubt, these changes will increase impressions and clicks across almost every campaign. We’re noticing an increase across all search campaigns due to this change, and are being forced to do daily or weekly negative keyword additions when keywords don’t match goals. Proper negative keyword research and search term monitoring is the most effective strategy we can do before accounts launch and as accounts are running.”
5. Building ad groups with single keywords just got a lot more difficult
A great way to have control over a campaign at a very granular level is to build single keyword ad groups (SKAG). This strategy allows for highly focused ad copy and landing pages, and as a result, quality scores for this type of campaign are high.
Carolina Jaramillo, Paid Media Manager at POLARIS explains why this strategy will no longer be as effective.
“I’m a big fan of creating SKAG structured campaigns, and this new change might make it more difficult to protect the single keyword ad group structure. Consequently, due to this new change, how will we be able to optimise ad copy for a single keyword when this keyword is liable to match a wide range of different queries? Although I am interested to see how Google will look for opportunities to expand our reach to serve ads for relevant queries as they say in their update, and as they state 15% of searches we see every day are new, we will have to wait and see how this change will affect our clients’ Google Ads campaigns.”
So, can any good come of these changes?
1. May reveal new keywords that were not previously targeted which actually convert
Not everyone searches the same. So coming up with a comprehensive keyword list that captures every single potential search term a user might enter to find your products and services is nigh-on impossible. Keyword research can only take you so far.
With this in mind, showing ads for searches that share the same intent may provide a great opportunity to track down some high converting keywords, which may have otherwise been overlooked.
Haley Anhut, PPC Manager at Clean Origin thinks there are benefits of Google showing not only for close variants but also conceptually related keywords.
“I have already seen some very smart close variants triggering existing keywords. Whether these keywords can be left alone, included within an existing ad group or a new ad group created around those keywords for highly targeted ad copy; all offer a great way to expand your campaign reach and performance. The greater the awareness of a consumer’s journey to conversion, and how that journey functions within the search funnel, allows for a highly tactical approach when reaching consumers. With more data at our fingertips, we can enhance campaign optimization strategy and expand reach through relevant searches.”
2. Will save time creating granular ad groups
As Google is capable of understanding when search terms mean the same thing, and will serve ads as a result, you no longer need to worry about including the keywords within that ad group in the ad copy. While it’s not yet clear how showing ads for close match and intent-based variations of your keywords will impact metrics like ad relevancy, this catch-all approach could save time when it comes to creating granular ad groups containing just a couple of keywords for every campaign.
Coupled with a feature like keyword insertion, this could be a powerful way of increasing reach on low impression campaigns while making the ads more relevant to the user’s search term with minimal effort.
3. Top tips and advice from PPC managers
Rather than panic, you should be proactive in preparing for this change and keep a very close eye on your accounts as it begins to roll out.
“Broad and phrase match CPCs are increasing because there are more campaigns competing for the same keywords now. A good tactic is to allocate a portion of the daily budget to the new phrase match and broad match parameters and see which keywords are resulting in low CPCs and high CTRs. Those keywords can then be optimized into ‘exact matches.’ Overall, this change makes keyword research much more important now because a higher value will lie in ‘exact match’ keywords.”
Haris Karim, Lead Digital Strategist at MAB.
“To avoid the negative effects of unwanted reach, skew towards more specific match types like exact match, although exact match already allows same-meaning close variant targeting so that is not as specific as it once was, too. In addition to this, make sure you are using a robust negative keyword strategy to avoid showing for unwanted queries. Lastly, review your search term reports regularly to ensure your impressions are relevant to your ad group keywords, ads, and landing pages.”
Timothy Johnson, SMB Solutions and PPC Lead at Portent Digital Agency.
“I would say that if you still have some ad groups built around different match types, you should consolidate those ad groups into one. For instance, if you have an ad group dedicated to exact match keywords, and another ad group dedicated to phrase match, the phrase match keywords (which now are showing for more phrases) will cannibalize all of that exact-match traffic unless the exact-match keywords have higher bids and ad rank.”
Adam Gingery, Digital Strategy and Paid Search Manager at Majux Marketing.
“I feel like Google is trying to make our lives easier with this latest change, but it’s actually just making them harder. Yes, there will be opportunities for the big spenders to get more exposure from the lower volume terms that they may not have thought of or come across yet, but for the smaller players that need to spend their limited budget very wisely, it means more time needs to be spent constantly monitoring search term reports and adding more and more negatives. So my tip for those smaller advertisers would be to focus on negative keywords. Regularly check search term reports and add negative phrases straight from there, but also take the single terms within the longer phrases that are wrong, and add those as broad match negatives to stop Google showing ads for another phrase containing that term, if it will always be wrong.”
Ashleigh Davison, Head of Biddable Media, Browser Media.
“The obvious suggestion here to minimize impact is to focus on negative keywords, especially if you can do this preemptively before they start costing you money. So instead of just thinking of all the most obvious negatives that a business would want to avoid, you will now need to start thinking about close variations of your products or services that you may want to add.”
Ryan Scollon, PPC freelance consultant.
What do you think the impact will be? We’d love to know your thoughts.
The post Google Ads announce more changes to match types – Challenges and opportunities appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
Skype is best known for being a video calling app and, to some extent, that’s because its messaging feature set has been a bit underdeveloped. Today, the company is working to change that image with a series of improvements to Skype’s chatting features aimed at further differentiating it from rival apps.
One of the most useful of the new features is support for Message Drafts.
Similar to email, any message you type up in Skype but don’t yet send is saved within the conversation with a “draft” tag attached. That way you can return to the message to finish it and send it later.
It’s a feature that would be great to see other messaging clients adopt, as well, given how much of modern business and personal communication takes place outside of email.
People have wanted the ability to draft and schedule iMessage texts for years — so much so that clever developers invented app-based workarounds to meet consumers’ needs. Some people even type up their texts in Notepad, waiting for the right time to send them.
In another email-inspired addition, Skype is also introducing the ability to bookmark important messages. To access this option, you just have to long-press a message (on mobile) or right-click (on desktop), then tap or click “Add Bookmark.” This will add the message to your Bookmarks screen for easy retrieval.
You’ll also now be able to preview photos, videos and files before you send them through messages — a worthwhile improvement, but one that’s more about playing catch-up to other communication apps than being particularly innovative.
And if you’re sharing a bunch of photos or videos all at once, Skype will now organize them neatly. Instead of overwhelming recipients with a large set of photos, the photos are grouped in a way that’s more common to what you’d see on social media. That is, only a few are displayed while the rest hide behind a “+” button you have to click in order to see more.
Unrelated to the messaging improvements, Skype also rolled out split window support for all versions of Windows, Mac and Linux. (Windows 10 support was already available.)
As one of the older messaging apps still in use, Skype is no longer the largest or most popular, claiming only 300 million monthly active users compared to WhatsApp’s 1.5 billion, for example.
However, it’s good to see its team getting back to solving real consumer pain points rather than trying to clone Snapchat as it mistakenly tried to do not too long ago. (Thankfully, those changes were rolled back.) What Skype’s remaining users appreciate is the app’s ease-of-use and its productivity focus, and these changes are focused on that direction.
Outside of the expanded access to split view, noted above, all the other new features are rolling out across all Skype platforms, the company says.
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Twitter has disclosed more bugs related to how it uses personal data for ad targeting that means it may have shared users data with advertising partners even when a user had expressly told it not to.
In a blog post on its Help Center about the latest “issues” Twitter says it “recently” found, it admits to finding two problems with users’ ad settings choices that mean they “may not have worked as intended”.
It claims both problems were fixed on August 5. Though it does not specify when it realized it was processing user data without their consent.
The first bug relates to tracking ad conversions. This meant that if a Twitter user clicked or viewed an ad for a mobile application on the platform and subsequently interacted with the mobile app Twitter says it “may have shared certain data (e.g., country code; if you engaged with the ad and when; information about the ad, etc)” with its ad measurement and advertising partners — regardless of whether the user had agreed their personal data could be shared in this way.
It suggests this leak of data has been happening since May 2018 — which is also the day when Europe’s updated privacy framework, GDPR, came into force. The regulation mandates disclosure of data breaches (which explains why you’re hearing about all these issues from Twitter) — and means that quite a lot is riding on how “recently” Twitter found these latest bugs. Because GDPR also includes a supersized regime of fines for confirmed data protection violations.
Though it remains to be seen whether Twitter’s now repeatedly leaky adtech will attract regulatory attention…
Twitter may have /accidentally/ shared data on users to ads partners even for those who opted out from personalised ads. That would be a violation of user settings and expectations, which #GDPR makes a quasi-contract. https://t.co/s0acfllEhG
— Lukasz Olejnik (@lukOlejnik) August 7, 2019
Twitter specifies that it does not share users’ names, Twitter handles, email or phone number with ad partners. However it does share a user’s mobile device identifier, which GDPR treats as personal data as it acts as a unique identifier. Using this identifier, Twitter and Twitter’s ad partners can work together to link a device identifier to other pieces of identity-linked personal data they collectively hold on the same user to track their use of the wider Internet, thereby allowing user profiling and creepy ad targeting to take place in the background.
The second issue Twitter discloses in the blog post also relates to tracking users’ wider web browsing to serve them targeted ads.
Here Twitter admits that, since September 2018, it may have served targeted ads that used inferences made about the user’s interests based on tracking their wider use of the Internet — even when the user had not given permission to be tracked.
This sounds like another breach of GDPR, given that in cases where the user did not consent to being tracked for ad targeting Twitter would lack a legal basis for processing their personal data. But it’s saying it processed it anyway — albeit, it claims accidentally.
This type of creepy ad targeting — based on so-called ‘inferences’ — is made possible because Twitter associates the devices you use (including mobile and browsers) when you’re logged in to its service with your Twitter account, and then receives information linked to these same device identifiers (IP addresses and potentially browser fingerprinting) back from its ad partners, likely gathered via tracking cookies (including Twitter’s own social plug-ins) which are larded all over the mainstream Internet for the purpose of tracking what you look at online.
These third party ad cookies link individuals’ browsing data (which gets turned into inferred interests) with unique device/browser identifiers (linked to individuals) to enable the adtech industry (platforms, data brokers, ad exchanges and so on) to track web users across the web and serve them “relevant” (aka creepy) ads.
“As part of a process we use to try and serve more relevant advertising on Twitter and other services since September 2018, we may have shown you ads based on inferences we made about the devices you use, even if you did not give us permission to do so,” it how Twitter explains this second ‘issue’.
“The data involved stayed within Twitter and did not contain things like passwords, email accounts, etc.,” it adds. Although the key point here is one of a lack of consent, not where the data ended up.
(Also, the users’ wider Internet browsing activity linked to their devices via cookie tracking did not originate with Twitter — even if it’s claiming the surveillance files it received from its “trusted” partners stayed on its servers. Bits and pieces of that tracked data would, in any case, exist all over the place.)
In an explainer on its website on “personalization based on your inferred identity” Twitter seeks to reassure users that it will not track them without their consent, writing:
We are committed to providing you meaningful privacy choices. You can control whether we operate and personalize your experience based on browsers or devices other than the ones you use to log in to Twitter (or if you’re logged out, browsers or devices other than the one you’re currently using), or email addresses and phone numbers similar to those linked to your Twitter account. You can do this by visiting your Personalization and data settings and adjusting the Personalize based on your inferred identity setting.
The problem in this case is that users’ privacy choices were simply overridden. Twitter says it did not do so intentionally. But either way it’s not consent. Ergo, a breach.
“We know you will want to know if you were personally affected, and how many people in total were involved. We are still conducting our investigation to determine who may have been impacted and If we discover more information that is useful we will share it,” Twitter goes on. “What is there for you to do? Aside from checking your settings, we don’t believe there is anything for you to do.
“You trust us to follow your choices and we failed here. We’re sorry this happened, and are taking steps to make sure we don’t make a mistake like this again. If you have any questions, you may contact Twitter’s Office of Data Protection through this form.”
While the company may “believe” there is nothing Twitter users can do — aside from accept its apology for screwing up — European Twitter users who believe it processed their data without their consent do have a course of action they can take: They can complain to their local data protection watchdog.
Zooming out, there are also major legal question marks hanging over behaviourally targeted ads in Europe.
The UK’s privacy regulator warned in June that systematic profiling of web users via invasive tracking technologies such as cookies is in breach of pan-EU privacy laws — following multiple complaints filed in the region that argue RTB is in breach of the GDPR.
While, back in May Google’s lead regulator in Europe, the Irish Data Protection Commission, confirmed it has opened a formal investigation into use of personal data in the context of its online Ad Exchange.
So the wider point here is that the whole leaky business of creepy ads looks to be operating on borrowed time.
— Johnny Ryan (@johnnyryan) August 6, 2019
Senate Democrats want to remind everyone that US elections are still at risk, and Congress could do more to protect them.
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After a series of tweets that made it seem as if YouTube was contradicting its own anti-harassment policies, the video platform published a blog post in an attempt to clarify its stance. But even though the post is supposed to “provide more details and context than is possible in any one string of tweets” and promises that YouTube will reexamine its harassment policy, it raises yet more questions about how serious YouTube is about combatting harassment and hate speech on its platform—especially if the abuse comes from a high-profile channel with million of subscribers.
YouTube is currently under fire for not taking earlier, more decisive actions against conservative commentator Steven Crowder after he made homophobic and racist comments about Vox reporter Carlos Maza in multiple videos. The platform eventually demonetized Crowder’s channel, which currently has more than 3.8 million subscribers, but then stated it would allow Crowder to start making ad revenue again if he fixed “all of the issues” with his channel and stopped linking to an online shop that sold shirts saying “Socialism is for f*gs.”
Before demonetizing Crowder’s channels, YouTube responded to Maza in a series of tweets that created confusion about how it enforces it policies. The platform said after an “in-depth review” of flagged videos by Crowder, it decided that even though the language they contained was “clearly hurtful,” the videos did not violate its policies because “as an open platform, it’s crucial for us to allow everyone-from creators to journalists to late-night TV hosts-to express their opinions w/in the scope of our policies.” This was in spite of the fact that Crowder’s derogatory references to Maza’s ethnicity and sexual orientation violate several of YouTube’s policy against harassment and cyberbullying, including “content that makes hurtful and negative personal comments/videos about another person.”
I’ve been called an anchor baby, a lispy queer, a Mexican, etc. These videos get millions of views on YouTube. Every time one gets posted, I wake up to a wall of homophobic/racist abuse on Instagram and Twitter.
— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) May 31, 2019
In the new blog post, posted by YouTube head of communications Chris Dale, the platform gives a lengthy explanation of how it attempts to draw the line between things like “edgy stand-up comedy routines” and harassment. But in the case of Crowder’s persistent attacks on Maza, YouTube repeated its stance that the videos flagged by users “did not violate our Community Guidelines.”
As an open platform, we sometimes host opinions and views that many, ourselves included, may find offensive. These could include edgy stand-up comedy routines, a chart-topping song, or a charged political rant — and more. Short moments from these videos spliced together paint a troubling picture. But, individually, they don’t always cross the line.
There are two key policies at play here: harassment and hate speech. For harassment, we look at whether the purpose of the video is to incite harassment, threaten or humiliate an individual; or whether personal information is revealed. We consider the entire video: For example, is it a two-minute video dedicated to going after an individual? A 30-minute video of political speech where different individuals are called out a handful of times? Is it focused on a public or private figure? For hate speech, we look at whether the primary purpose of the video is to incite hatred toward or promote supremacism over a protected group; or whether it seeks to incite violence. To be clear, using racial, homophobic, or sexist epithets on their own would not necessarily violate either of these policies. For example, as noted above, lewd or offensive language is often used in songs and comedic routines. It’s when the primary purpose of the video is hate or harassment. And when videos violate these policies, we remove them.
The decision to demonetize Crowder’s channel was ultimately made because “we saw the widespread harm to the YouTube community resulting from the ongoing pattern of egregious behavior, took a deeper look, and made the decision to suspend monetization,” Dale wrote. In order to start earning ad revenue again, “all relevant issues with the channel need to be addressed, including any videos that violate our policies, as well as things like offensive merchandise,” he added.
The latest YouTube controversy is both upsetting and exhausting, because it is yet another reminder of the company’s lack of action against hate speech and harassment, despite constantly insisting that it will do better (just yesterday, for example, YouTube announced that it will ban videos that support views like white supremacy, Nazi ideology or promote conspiracy theories that deny events like the Holocaust or Sandy Hook).
The passivity of social media companies when it comes to stemming the spread of hate through its platforms has real-life consequences (for example, when (Maza was doxxed and harassed by fans of Crowder last year), and no amount of prevarication or distancing can stop the damage once its been done.
Amazon and Walmart’s problems in India look set to continue after Narendra Modi, the biggest force to embrace the country’s politics in decades, led his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party to a historic landslide re-election on Thursday, reaffirming his popularity in the eyes of the world’s largest democracy.
The re-election, which gives Modi’s government another five years in power, will in many ways chart the path of India’s burgeoning startup ecosystem, as well as the local play of Silicon Valley companies that have grown increasingly wary of recent policy changes.
At stake is also the future of India’s internet, the second largest in the world. With more than 550 million internet users, the nation has emerged as one of the last great growth markets for Silicon Valley companies. Google, Facebook, and Amazon count India as one of their largest and fastest growing markets. And until late 2016, they enjoyed great dynamics with the Indian government.
But in recent years, New Delhi has ordered more internet shutdowns than ever before and puzzled many over crackdowns on sometimes legitimate websites. To top that, the government recently proposed a law that would require any intermediary — telecom operators, messaging apps, and social media services among others — with more than 5 million users to introduce a number of changes to how they operate in the nation. More on this shortly.