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Ginny Marvin – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Fri, 19 Jul 2019 19:09:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 Microsoft search, LinkedIn revenue growth slow for third straight quarter /microsoft-search-linkedin-revenue-growth-slow-for-third-straight-quarter-319681 Fri, 19 Jul 2019 19:08:41 +0000 /?p=319681 Higher revenue per search couldn't offset lower volume in the fourth quarter of its fiscal year 2019.

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Microsoft reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings Thursday, but the two sectors of the company that matter most to digital advertisers — search advertising and LinkedIn — again saw declining year-over-year growth in the final quarter of its fiscal 2019, which ended June 30.

Single-digit revenue growth for search advertising. With an increase of just 9% in the fourth quarter compared to the prior year, search advertising revenue grew slower than expected last quarter, the company’s CFO Amy Hood said during Microsoft’s earnings call Thursday evening.

Search advertising revenue increased by $184 million year-over-year, though Microsoft did not disclose what its total search revenue was for the quarter.

Hood said search advertising experienced lower volume than the company had expected and that growth was driven by higher revenue per search.

LinkedIn slowing continue. While still in the double-digits, LinkedIn revenue and session growth has been slowing for several quarters. LinkedIn sessions increased 22% year-over-year, while revenue grew by 25%.

Why we should care. Bing Ads rebranded as Microsoft Advertising at the end of April, highlighting the advertising group’s broader offerings beyond search inventory and data. Artificial intelligence and LinkedIn data for ad targeting have opened up opportunities for Microsoft Advertising to do more interesting things than simply follow in Google’s steps. Still, volume has been an issue, particularly on mobile, and is clearly one the company continues to struggle with.

Google will report its second-quarter earnings next week, but it, too, has reported slowing ad revenue growth for the past four quarters.

Microsoft’s search advertising business encompasses search ads on Bing and across the Microsoft Audience Network, which serves native ads on Outlook, MSN.com and Microsoft’s Edge browser.

Microsoft continued to note — as it has done in every quarter of its 2019 fiscal year — that LinkedIn continued to see “record levels of engagement.” LinkedIn has continued to invest in advertising capabilities and technology, including the addition of lookalike targeting, interest targeting that integrates Bing search data and more than 20 predefined business audiences for ad targeting at the end of March. At the end of May, LinkedIn announced it had entered a deal to acquire identity resolution platform Drawbridge to boost ad engagement and results for advertisers.

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Ticket reseller Viagogo suspended from Google Ads /secondary-ticket-seller-viagogo-suspended-from-google-ads-319607 Wed, 17 Jul 2019 19:38:45 +0000 /?p=319607 Industry groups had been calling on Google to stop accepting advertising dollars from the reseller.

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Google suspended secondary ticket marketplace Viagogo’s advertising for violating its ad policies.

The suspension follows campaigns by event industry groups to get Google to remove Viagogo’s ads. Last year, 24 signatories, including UK trade and industry bodies as well as several MPs, sent an open letter to Google calling on the company to stop profiting from Viagogo’s ads.

Google confirmed the suspension Wednesday. “When people use our platform for help in purchasing tickets, we want to make sure that they have an experience they can trust. This is why we have strict policies and take necessary action when we find an advertiser in breach,” a Google spokesperson said.

Why we should care

Google routinely suspends advertisers for violating its advertising policies — it said it removed one million advertiser accounts in 2018. But it’s rarer for an individual advertiser’s suspension to be so public. Music industry group FanFair alliance told The Guardian it has “been in constructive conversations with Google for over two years in an attempt to address this issue.”

Google changed its policies for secondary event ticket sellers in 2017, and in 2018, instituted a certification process for ticket resellers to be able to advertise with Google. Resellers must provide proper disclosure of pricing and fee structures on their websites to be eligible to advertise.

Google listed ticket resellers among the sectors targeted for clean up in its “bad ads report” issued in March. For-profit bail bond services, addiction treatment services, third-party tech support services, cryptocurrencies and some local services were also named as sectors Google focused on last year.

More on the news

  • Viagogo has a history of legal trouble. In April, an Australian court ruled that the Switzerland-based Viagogo had misled consumers with false claims about ticket scarcity to create a sense of urgency as well as charging exorbitant booking fees.
  • An investigation conducted by The Guardian last spring found Viagogo reselling football (soccer) match tickets illegally. And, earlier this month, the UK’s competition regulator found the company in contempt of court for failing to make changes to its website to comply with consumer laws.
  • “We were extremely surprised to learn of Google’s concerns today. We are confident that there has been no breach of Google’s policies and look forward to working with them to resolve this as quickly as possible,” a Viagogo spokesperson told the Guardian.

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Amazon’s got a PPC lock on “Prime Day” /amazons-got-a-ppc-lock-on-prime-day-319455 Mon, 15 Jul 2019 19:25:46 +0000 /?p=319455 Whether by choice or not isn't clear, but competitors are sitting on the sidelines of "prime day" ad auctions.

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Amazon’s (two-day) Prime Day is underway, and we were curious how competing retailers and brands would challenge Amazon in the search results and try to capitalize on the rise in “prime day” queries. Turns out, on search, Amazon has “prime day” locked down.

If you’re looking for “competing Prime Day deals,” you’ll find plenty of articles on how other retailers and competitors such as Walmart, Target and eBay. But you aren’t likely to find any ads from those competitors.

No ads when searching for competing retailer deals

In some cases, Google shows Top Stories and no ads at all:

In other cases (this time incognito), an Amazon ad is the only ad that appears on the results page:

It may be that brands and retailers aren’t bidding on “prime day” keywords. We’ve reached out to a number of agencies that work with retail clients, and they said they weren’t bidding on “prime day” keywords. At the same time, they found it odd that Amazon appears to be the sole advertiser.

No ads for non-branded “competing deals”

Even when searching for “anti prime deals” or “competing prime deals” where the intent is clearly to find non-Amazon results.

Amazon ran general Prime Day sale ads as well as product-specific ads such as the Deebot ad seen below.

We’re seeing the same treatment on Bing as well.

Not without precedent

We asked Google if Amazon had a kind of whitelisting arrangement to keep other ads from appearing on “prime day” search results. This wouldn’t be without precedent. The search engines may limit ads to official sponsors, as in the case of the Olympics, or opt to not show ads at all, as Bing has done for Super Bowl queries. A Google spokesperson said it doesn’t disclose that kind of information about advertisers.

We’ve reached out to Amazon for comment but have not received a response.

The organic news results — and likely your email inbox — indicate Amazon’s competitors are heavily promoting their own sales during these two days. It’s just not clear if those competitors aren’t using paid search for “Prime Day” because they don’t want to or because they can’t.

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New Google Shopping program enables customer photos to show with their product reviews /new-google-shopping-program-enables-customer-photos-to-show-with-their-product-reviews-319341 Thu, 11 Jul 2019 18:04:36 +0000 /?p=319341 The feature is rolling out now and available through a handful of reviews partners.

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Users can click to see customer photos included with their reviews in Google Shopping. Image: Yotpo.

Google Shopping is bringing customer photos to the product reviews sections of advertisers’ listings. Reviews are accessible from the “View more” option on mobile Shopping ads or by clicking on the star ratings in a listing.

Why we should care

Images are eye-catching, and thumbnail images of reviewers can add further social proof to ever-critical product reviews in Google Shopping. Along with the reviews themselves, it’s a step toward including more user-generated content (UGC) to inform users as they’re shopping. UGC can add an element of authenticity and credibility to retailers’ listings that manufacturer-supplied professional shots can’t.

It’s too early to know what kind of impact advertisers who show customer photos alongside their reviews could see, but they’ll be looking for a bump in click-through rates and more conversions from high-intent shoppers.

More on the news

  • A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land that customer photos are in the first stages of rolling out and that the feature is only available in the US for now.
  • The program is not related to the new Google Shopping experience that is coming to the U.S., Google confirmed.
  • Advertisers must be working with one of the reviews providers participating in the program: Yotpo, PowerReviews, Bazaarvoice, and Influenster. The program may expand to other partners in the future.
  • As long as customer images are enabled in a participating partner platform, they’ll be syndicated automatically to Google for inclusion in the advertisers’ Google Shopping listings.

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Ad customizers are now available in all Microsoft Advertising accounts /ad-customizers-are-now-available-in-all-microsoft-advertising-accounts-319308 Wed, 10 Jul 2019 18:38:55 +0000 /?p=319308 Create ad customizer feeds in the UI or import them from your Google account.

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Ad customizers have been around in Google Ads for several years, and now advertisers can use them in their Microsoft Advertising campaigns, too. Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads) announced Wednesday that ad customizers are now available to all advertisers globally.

Why we should care

With ad customizers, you can dynamically tailor your ad copy based on attributes defined in a feed. Can deliver ads that are more relevant to the query without having to build out hundreds or thousands of variations.

For example, you could show different offers to users based on their target location, promotion and more. Unlike Google, Microsoft Advertising allows you to apply ad customizers by audience, in addition to keyword, ad group, campaign or ad group.

For some ideas on using ad customizers for e-commerce, see contributor Joe Martinez’s article Improving e-commerce text ads with ad customizer data feeds.

As with Google, you can use the “date” attribute in your feed to show offer countdowns in your ads. For example, an ad structured like this:

{=Deals.Product}
www.contoso.com
Get {=Deals.Promo} – offer ends in {=COUNTDOWN(Deals.Ends_by)}.
Buy now for only {=Deals.Start_price}

Could render like this:

Contoso 16V Vacuum
www.contoso.com
Get 30% off with free shipping – offer ends in 2 days.
Buy now for only $70.00

More on Microsoft Advertising ad customizers

  • You can use them in any part of an expanded text ad except the URL.
  • If you’re already using ad customizers in Google Ads, the Google Import tool will work to import those feeds and ads into your Microsoft Advertising account.
  • In addition to the Google Import tool, you can create and manage the feeds with the Feed Management tool in the Microsoft Advertising UI (Shared Library > Business Data) or via a bulk API integration. Soon, you’ll be able to schedule feed uploads from a URL, the company says.
  • See the Microsoft Advertising help page to get started with ad customizer feeds.

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Microsoft Advertising says it’s keeping average position reporting /microsoft-advertising-says-its-keeping-average-position-reporting-319138 Fri, 05 Jul 2019 18:07:21 +0000 /?p=319138 Position-based impression share metrics are now available.

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Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads) has added the position-based impression share metrics that Google introduced last fall. But, unlike Google, it said average position reporting will be sticking around.

Adding prominence metrics. Now called prominence metrics, rather than share of voice, in Microsoft Advertising, the set of six new stats are available at the campaign, ad group and keyword levels.

  • Top impression share
  • Top impression share lost to rank
  • Top impression share lost to budget
  • Absolute top impression share
  • Absolute top impression share lost to rank
  • Absolute top impression share lost to budget
The new prominence metric columns are available now. Image: Microsoft Advertising.

Removing others. Say goodbye to other competitive metrics: impression share lost to bid, relevance, and expected CTR

Average position. Microsoft Adverting confirmed it is keeping average position reporting.

“One key metric that will remain in your reporting is average position, as we’ve heard continuous feedback that shows this information is still very valuable to you,” said Nahva Tecklu, a Microsoft Advertising program manager, in the blog post.

Why we should care. Google announced in February that it will be retiring average position later this year. The news came a few months after it introduced the position metrics Microsoft Advertising added this week.

Google’s reasoning for removing average position is that it’s no longer a great indicator for where your ads actually appear since position one may actually be at the bottom of the page on some search results. Microsoft is bucking this decision, but we’ll see how long it sticks around if advertisers get comfortable not having it in Google Ads.

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Lessons from a search marketer of the year /lessons-from-a-search-marketer-of-the-year-318571 Mon, 01 Jul 2019 12:36:45 +0000 /?p=318571 Felicia Delveccio, a Search Engine Land search marketer of the year, lead an 18-month realignment of her client's multiple programs and says trust and perseverance have been key to her success.

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Felicia DelVecchio, Director, Digital Media at DAC.

Every day, paid search marketers are developing strategies, managing campaigns, communicating with stakeholders and optimizing for ever-better results. But what sets the best search marketers apart from the rest?

Felicia DelVeccio, director of digital media at DAC Group and Search Engine Land Award search marketer of the year along with Andrew Cooper of Metric Theory, says it’s largely about relationships. But it’s certainly more than that. In DelVecchio’s case, she listens closely to her enterprise client, is always looking for new opportunities and is also able to take a long-view approach. She systematically refocused her enterprise client’s programs around the customer to achieve better results — at scale.

At DAC Group, DelVecchio leads the Bridgestone account team and works with Bridgestone’s internal team on a daily basis. Over the last two years she aligned Bridgestone’s disparate programs across its brands and stores under one integrated “enterprise-to-local SEM strategy.”

Taking the long-view to focus on the customer

The singular strategy is centered around customer intent. Working with Bridgestone, DelVecchio and her team identified which brand, landing page content, ad copy, and keywords best aligned to customer intent at each stage of the journey. They then restructured the accounts based on this intent mapping and designated “best-fit” geographies for specific Bridgestone brands.

The complex restructuring took more than 18 months to complete. DelVecchio now coordinates SEM activitieses across more than 75 search accounts, which comprise “Bridgestone” as a whole. 

Media spend across the program is allocated based on cost and performance goals. Success is measured by the KPIs that best demonstrate the success of each intended action for each brand and part of the program.

Among the many success indicators: The new strategy delivered a 59% increase in revenue year over year even as spend decreased by 14% overall. Added focus on mobile and local search drove a 971% increase in store visits on a 150% increase in spend.

Beyond checking off the boxes

“I think what makes a really great client-agency relationship is trust,” DelVecchio told Search Engine Land. “It’s about doing what’s best for the client, not what’s best for the agency. . . . The team is really passionate and not just about performance or the numbers, but about how we’re moving the client’s business.”

“We never look at a program as checking off boxes. Yes, we have timelines throughout the year that we follow, but it’s about making new boxes as we research, explore new programs, features and goals. It’s about challenging the client to think about new opportunities as well.”

Advice for marketers getting started

DelVecchio has been working in search marketing for 12 years and with DAC Group for nearly five years. “She’s a strategic thinker who not only stays on top of all the latest betas, changes, and offerings within SEM, but also smartly builds them into her strategies,” her team wrote.

I asked her what she’d say to someone just getting started in the search industry. “Don’t get discouraged when you get overwhelmed,” she said. “If you keep working and have the right mentality to grow and develop, you can master the skills. But at the core, it’s about understanding what you’re doing is working toward the businesses’ goals — understanding the big picture and how you fit in it. We aren’t just thinking about paid search specifically, we think of it as a discipline that’s part of a greater holistic media strategy.”

DelVecchio’s off-the-cuff acceptance speech at this year’s Search Engine Land Awards hit at the heart of the spirit of the search marketer of the year award, which aims to recognize marketers who may not be “household” names in the industry, but they are thought leaders and role models in their companies and to their clients and are doing great work that exemplifies the best of what’s happening in search today. DelVecchio also proves that perseverance pays off.

DelVecchio’s speech has been lightly edited:

“Thank you so much. Thank you, Search Engine Land.

I just want to thank my team at DAC. I would not be here with out them. Someone said it before, but people really matter, and it means so much to me to work with people who have so much passion for this industry and share the passion I have for this industry as well. I’d also like to thank Bridgestone, our fantastic client. They make this work really fun and exciting to do every single day.

I’ve been in this industry for maybe 12 years now, and I’ve had people tell me that I’m not a leader, I can’t be a leader, that maybe I’m not cut out for this industry. And every time somebody said that to me it made me work harder and put more into this because I believe in myself. This just means so much to me. I have a five-year-old daughter and winning this award just proves to her that if you put your mind to anything you can do anything that you really care about. Thank you so much, and I just want to say thank you to my husband who is here with me tonight for all of your support. I love you, thanks.”

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Google aims to make it easier for SMBs to start using its products /google-aims-to-make-it-easier-for-smbs-to-start-using-its-products-318915 Thu, 27 Jun 2019 14:14:36 +0000 /?p=318915 Google for Small Business launches with resources and product recommendations for small businesses.

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Google announced a new website Thursday with resources aimed at helping small businesses get started with Google products. The launch coincides with International Small Business day.

The site, Google for Small Business, includes “personalized plans” with recommendations of Google products based on a company’s answers to several prompt questions such as whether the business is online, offline a hybrid and its selected goal to either stand out online, reach more customers or work more efficiently.

The recommendations include a mix of free and paid solutions, such as setting up setting up a Google My Business profile, trialing G Suite and creating a YouTube channel.

Google also offers in-person Grow with Google workshops to educate small businesses about its products and how to use them.

Why we should care. Cracking the small business sector well and at scale has been a challenge for Google. The products can feel confusing to business owners and staff just getting started. Kim Spalding, global product director for Small Business Ads at Google, and former small business owner herself, was brought on a couple of years ago to help reframe the company’s approach to working with SMBs.

On the ads front, Google has built on its original AdWords Express technology for SMBs, launching Smart Campaigns last year. The automated campaign type is meant to offer a simplified entry point to Google Ads for new advertisers. Local Services ads, available in the U.S. and Canada, are also aimed at small businesses. A standalone app is designed to enable verified local service providers in certain sectors to promote their businesses with ads in Google search and manage leads and customers that come in through the app. Last week, Google added new branding tools, including @shortnames, to Google My Business, and has been surveying businesses about potentially making it a paid service (it suffers from millions of fake and spammed listings).

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Google adding features for advertisers to promote deals, drive in-store purchases /google-adding-features-for-advertisers-to-promote-deals-drive-in-store-purchases-318852 Wed, 26 Jun 2019 19:39:46 +0000 /?p=318852 Local campaign updates, seasonality adjustments and more.

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The same week, Amazon announced Prime Day will extend two full days, for the first time, Google is announcing new updates for retailers and emphasizing that consumers are “on the lookout for deals year-round.”

Some of these announcements were shared or hinted at during Google Marketing Live last month. Here’s the rundown of what’s available now or coming soon.

Seasonality adjustments. If you know you’ve got a sale or promotion coming and anticipate a jump in conversion rates, you can now use seasonality adjustments to signal Google’s Smart Bidding system to prepare for the increase and adjust more quickly.

More in-market audience segments. Google has added more in-market segments in categories such as beauty, sports, education and real estate, including 30 new retail categories. In-market audiences for search are grouped based on purchase intent signaled by users’ search and browsing behavior.

Calls for Local campaigns. Local campaigns, launched last year, are one of Google’s automated campaign formats and expressly aimed at driving traffic to physical locations. The ads run across Google search, Maps, YouTube and the Display Network.

Soon, advertisers will be able to use Local campaigns to drive calls to their business locations. Store visits measurement will not be required for this feature to work.

Group locations for Local campaign messaging. Advertisers can now set up location groups, or subsets, of their locations to tailor budgets and messaging to specific locations based on in-store promotion and sale schedules. Google says “on sale near me” searches have increased by 250% since 2017. (It’s never quite clear how much of the “near me” increases are fueled by auto-suggestions.)

Asset reporting for Local campaigns. Google is also rolling out asset reporting for Local campaigns so you can see how your creative elements — ad headlines, descriptions and images — are performing. Don’t expect granular detail here, though. The asset report ranks elements with labels such as “Best” and “Good”.

Promotions in LIAs. Google is bringing promotions to local inventory ads (LIAs), the Shopping ads that feature products available in stores located near the searcher. Promotions can be used to highlight special offers and promotions. This feature is coming first to the U.S. and Australia and will roll out to other markets eventually. You can ask to be whitelisted by filling out this form.

Why we care. Amazon may dominate e-commerce, and Prime Day has certainly re-oriented brand and retailers’ promotions calendars, but in-store sales still account for the vast majority of purchases. Creating solutions for physical retailers is an area Google is focusing on that also happens to provide a counterpoint to the e-commerce giant. Local campaigns, in particular, are aimed at brick-and-mortar merchants that don’t have the resources to dedicate staff or an agency to campaign management.

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Parallel tracking, more custom parameters coming to Microsoft Advertising for improved tracking /parallel-tracking-more-custom-parameters-coming-to-microsoft-advertising-for-improved-tracking-318789 Tue, 25 Jun 2019 19:20:56 +0000 /?p=318789 Parallel tracking, currently in beta, will be rolling out soon.

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Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads) is going to be making several updates in the coming months to improve page load for users and provide better tracking for advertisers.

Parallel tracking. When parallel tracking is enabled, a user is taken directly to the landing page after clicking an ad, while the ad click measurement process happens separately in the background. The landing page can load immediately, which means happier users who stick around.

Google Ads rolled out parallel tracking for search ads last fall and for display ads in May, so you may already be familiar with it. Microsoft Advertising currently has it available as an option in some accounts, and the company says it expects to make it available to all advertisers soon. If you want to participate in the beta, reach out to your ad rep.

Parallel tracking processes click-measurement in the background, speeding up page delivery for users. Image: Microsoft Advertising.

Final URL suffix. Soon to be located in the “Campaign URL options” section of campaign settings, a Final URL suffix field will enable you to specify the parameters you want attached to your landing page URL for tracking. “You won’t have to worry about any encoding rules as you would if they were included in your tracking template,” said Rose Dorleans, Microsoft Advertising program manager in the blog post.

If you’re using parallel tracking, Microsoft Advertising recommends using the Final URL suffix to define the landing page parameters needed during redirection to ensure those values get passed to your website.

Each suffix can contain one of the following types of values:

  • Static URL parameter.
  • Values that reference Micrsosoft Advertising URL parameter values.
  • Any parameters listed on the final URL tracking template or custom parameter help page.

Custom parameter expansion. Now you can set up to eight pairs of custom parameters for URL tracking. The character limit has also been expanded to 250 characters. This will be available at the campaign, ad group and keyword levels, and support for additional levels is coming soon, said Dorleans in the announcement.

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