Lots happening in the world of PPC advertising this week, including news on Google’s attempts to stop fraudulent advertisers in their tracks, Bing’s ever-evolving quest for perfection with a slew of improvements and enhancements to the Bing Ads experience coming down the line, best practices for Bing’s Universal Event Tracking capabilities, more accurate shipping calculations in Google, and more.

In other words, 2015 is shaping up to be a bang-up year for PPC advertisers. With more data readily available to advertisers and search giants Bing and Google on a constant quest to make that data easier to access and analyze than ever before, the legitimate excuses for non-performing PPC campaigns are slowly dwindling. Of course, this is precisely why you should be reading my weekly PPC update, because you get all the news, tips, and best practices in one place week after week. (I’m allowed the occasional shameless plug, right?)

With that said, plenty of updates to give you this week, so on we go…

 

Peeking Into the World of Google…

Unexpected shipping costs are a huge issue for consumers. In fact, it’s one of the major contributors to abandoned shopping carts. The problem isn’t that advertisers are intentionally misleading shoppers, rather that accurate shipping rates are sometimes difficult to calculate.

Several major U.S. carriers have recently announced that they’re now applying dimensional weight pricing when calculating rates for shipments. That means package pricing isn’t dependent solely on the weight of an item, but package dimensions as well.

To compensate for this added complexity, the Google Merchant Center is now offering support for dimensional weight shipping rates. There are now three new attributes you can add to product data to specify the dimensions of packaging you’ll use to ship specific products, including:

  • Shipping length
  • Shipping width
  • Shipping height

Google will calculate carrier-calculated shipping rates for any supported carriers by taking into account these dimensional weights, leading to more accurate shipping cost information for your buyers and fewer abandoned shopping carts. Sound good? Get the details here.

Google is taking a bite of crime – er, I mean, bad advertising practices, with continued efforts to detect and rectify shoddy advertising on its network. Overall, Google disabled more than 524 million bad ads and banned more than 214,000 advertisers in 2014.

One example? As an example, last summer, Google’s analysis technology flagged some accounts as suspicious, which, on the surface, seemed like ordinary and perfectly innocent rental property ads. No obvious policy violations were visible by the human eye, but in this case, that only meant that the shady advertisers in question did a bang-up job making their ads look authentic to consumers. The reality? These vacation rentals were a scam and the rental properties didn’t even exist. It’s incidents like this that make Google’s technology smarter over time, enabling it to detect even the most well-disguised bad ads and advertisers.

Google names a few trends it focused on combating through 2014, including:

  • “We banned 7,000 advertisers for promoting counterfeit goods, down from 14,000 in 2013 (and 82,000 in 2012), demonstrating that counterfeiters are increasingly unable to circumvent our advanced enforcement systems.”
  • Malicious software. “Last year we removed 250,000 sites from our network for hiding forms of malware.”
  • Weight-loss scams. “In 2014 TrustInAds.org, a group which includes Google, AOL, Yahoo and others, released a report showing that we had collectively removed or rejected more than 2.5 million ads related to weight loss and dietary supplements over the past 18 months.”

The good: Google protects consumers from shady advertisers. The bad: Legit advertisers in categories like weight loss, which are plagued by scammers, are sometimes flagged despite having legit ads. If you’re in one of these niches, use extra caution to ensure you’re in-line with Google advertising policies. More on Google’s efforts to combat shady advertising here.

DoubleClick has launched the Ads Status Dashboard, a new publicly-accessible tool providing timely updates on major functionality issues or outages across DoubleClick products, including:

  • DoubleClick Campaign Manager
  • DoubleClick Studio
  • DoubleClick Bid Manager
  • DoubleClick Ad Exchange
  • DoubleClick Planning
  • DDM Reporting

See this post on the DoubleClick blog for more.

 

Checkin’ in with Bing…

Last week, Bing Ads engineers shared priorities and prospects for 2015. This week, Bing digs a little deeper into some of those priorities with more insights and updates on improvements to come to the Bing Ads experience.

To start with, Bing is placing customer focus at the core for 2015. In 2015, you can expect continued improvements in:

  • Platform speed and efficiencies
  • Enhanced targeting capabilities with audience-based signals
  • Enriching customer engagement by augmenting search experiences
  • Richer campaign insights
  • Ad formats that drive volume and enhance listings for the increasingly mobile world

Bing elaborates on these continued improvements, what advances were gained in 2014, and how it plans to effectively connect customers to the right audiences in this post.

Universal Event Tracking is a great feature that provides advertisers with deeper insights into what happens after someone clicks on your ad. To help you get the most from Universal Event Tracking, Bing has put together a best practices guide as well as answers to frequently asked questions. Check it out.

There’s also a remodel to reporting coming to Bing Ads. “We’re aiming to help you easily get your performance data from the campaign UI, making it quickly visible and intuitive in a way that renders decision-making a breeze,” says Bing. These efforts will begin soon, with the Bing Ads Blog reporting on progress along the way. Goals include removing redundant activities, unifying the reporting and campaign management processes, and incorporating reporting tasks into the campaign workspace. More details on these upcoming improvements here.

 

Strollin’ Around the Web…

Does Google Analytics make your head spin? It can easily be overwhelming for those not used to working the ins and outs of the Analytics dashboard on the regular. PPC Hero takes a look at the conversion path through Google Analytics, providing an excellent breakdown of how conversions are tracked and attributed within the Analytics platform, and what information you should be gleaning from your reports. Check it out.

Ad headlines can make or break your PPC campaigns, but WordStream offers up 21 fantastic tips for getting your ad headlines right. Read them here.

Merkle/RKG has a great last-minute checklist for capturing non-traditional Valentine’s Day shoppers. Get it here.

Clix Marketing has some tips for staying ahead of the PPC curve. One of them? Learn fast. (Enter second shameless plug of the week here.)

Certified Knowledge invited Joe Kerschbaum, Midwest Account Director of 3Q Digital, to be a guest on Marketing Nirvana and talk about some of his favorite changes that happened in Google and Bing advertising in 2014. And as you know, there were many. Read about it and find out how to access the show in this post.

Speaking of 3Q Digital, they’re talking mobile for 2015, offering three keys to success this year: Go Deep, Go Exclusive, and Go Native. It’s a must-read; grab it right here.

 

Whew. Methinks that’s a lot of updates in one week. But that spells good things to come to PPC advertising this year. It’s early February, and already big things are happening – and bigger things are planned – for both Bing and Google advertisers. If you haven’t really embraced PPC advertising as a primary advertising channel, 2015 is the year to do it.

Until next week, my friends. Happy reading!