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Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

Canada Exists? "Yes" Google Concedes

Google took a big step recently by finally allowing Canadian companies to become Adwords Qualified; a stamp of a approval previously denied to Google’s ignored neighbors. Yes, that is ever so subtle bitterness you sense. Thankfully however I can begin to put to rest my ill will now that Google has come to its senses.

What does it take for a company to become Adwords Qualified? Read more…

South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission has ordered Google to change the wording of Adsense contracts to comply with domestic fair trade law. Here is a snippet from the YONHAP News article that broke this news and handily describes some of the more crucial issues:

The FTC highlighted several clauses in the AdSense contract that violate domestic fair trade laws, of which one provision allowed Goggle to “reserve the right to refuse participation to any… participant at any time in its sole discretion.”

It also pointed towards an unfair clause, which said that “Google makes no guarantee regarding… the amount of any payment to be made.”

Concerning revenue division, FTC noted the disadvantage towards website operators, as one clause stipulates that “no other measurements or statistics of any kind shall be accepted by Google,” when calculating payments.

In addition the Korean FTC is forcing Google to switch the jurisdiction for all legal complaints from California to a location within South Korea.

How Will Google React?
The online market in South Korea is booming so there is little doubt Google will be as accommodating as possible with all of the issues raised. Still I have to wonder what will happen if they get stuck on an issue that can be chalked up to a cultural difference in conducting business. After all, how can Google guarantee payments?

Is Adsense as we know it going to prove compatible with the South Korean marketplace, or will it need a complete overhaul? I am very interested to see what happens next.

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Monday, February 19th, 2007

New Feature for AdWords

For some time now a feature not previously part of Google AdWords, has been requested by many webmasters and online advertisers. Last Friday, Feb 16, Google finally implemented a small, but notable feature that will make advertisers lives a little bit easier.

We have always been able to pause Campaigns and AdGroups, and now this functionality has been applied to individual keywords and specific ads! Before there was no way to temporarily remove keywords – one would have to delete it entirely and re-add it at a later date. Now by simply pausing keywords and ads, it will allow you to retain all statistically data, and easily reactivate at a later date.

It is certainly nice to see Google listening to the advice of its users. I, along with many others I am sure, had specifically requested this feature, and it’s great to see it implemented.

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Thursday, January 4th, 2007

StepForth’s Predictions for 2007

Another New Years has come and gone and over the past few weeks search industry professionals have been releasing their search market predictions for 2007. I have steered clear of reading them because it is time for me to write down StepForth’s predictions and the last thing I want to worry about is duplication. Without further adieu, here are the predictions my staff and I put together for 2007. Read more…

WebmasterRadio.FM has released a fascinating, if not alarming, story series based on the issues of click fraud and terrorist fund raising that is sure to be the subject of many water cooler sessions. As the story unfolds we will know more but here is a snippet that describes the concerns/accusations against the pay per click industry:

“The series starts with an interview with Clarence Briggs, CEO of hosting firm AIT.com. Mr. Briggs was a lead proponent in one of the class action lawsuits Google settled in the spring of 2006. Because the case was settled out of court, Google was never forced to show how they charge for some clicks and dismiss others as invalid. Mr. Briggs maintains Google is doing business as usual, just as they did before the class actions were initiated.

“During the interview, Mr. Briggs noted the use of click fraud by criminal and terrorist organizations. Our investigation has found several incidents of this type of activity. We have also found evidence of bot-nets used to facilitate click fraud, primarily against Google advertisers.” (source, WebmasterRadio.FM – linked here)

Jim Hedger, a past writer at StepForth and a good friend is one of the leaders of this investigation so I am sure to get notified as soon as more information is released – at which time I will post a follow up ASAP.

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Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Click-Fraudster Case Dropped by Google

Back in March of 2004 we reported on a man arrested for trying to extort Google. Last month, in order to protect its trade secrets Google has dropped its case against Michael Anthony Bradley. Bradley had attempted to extort $150,000 from Google by threatening the generation of millions of fraudulent clicks by using his ‘Google Clique’ software.

The case would result in the exposure of Google trade secrets and the risk of this information finding its way into the hands of potential future fraudsters. These “anti-fraud” secrets being exposed could cause a decline in advertiser confidence in Google’s system and has caused Google to reconsider the case.

This decision does mean that Bradley will get away with his extortion attempt, but may also be the best move for Google’s future with paid search. Not only would revealing their secrets open things up for future fraud attempts, but it would also expose their system to competitors.

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Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Yahoo Search Marketing Bidding Changes

This change has been forthcoming for some time now. The new Yahoo Search Marketing
platform is available for some who have been chosen for early release, and for the rest, the new year will see the complete rollover into the new system. At the beginning of December, however, we will see the launch of the new bidding system at YSM and some recent changes to how you will manage your bidding. So what exactly is changing?

Top 5 Max Bids and Your Position

The current bids for the top 5 paid placements will be removed along with the your position column. Read more…

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Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

PPC Campaign Assistance

I recently had a conversation with a client who was having some difficulties with his Google AdWords account. This client had then made some changes to financial settings and had resulted in significant charges beyond what was anticipated. In this example, the date range being displayed on the reports was set to a range which made it difficult to see the charges being accrued.

I spent some time working things through with the client which ultimately resulted in the effect on the account being originally sought after.

While managing PPC campaigns is an additional service offered by StepForth, for existing clients I am happy to answer any questions to try and help. For extensive issues we may require a PPC contract, but in many cases I will likely be able to simply answer your questions to help get things on track.

If you have any PPC related questions, please feel free to drop me a note at scott@stepforth.com and I will see what I can do to assist!

Clickriver Beta
Search engine company A9, a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon.com has launched a secure beta called Clickriver which allows advertisers to launch pay-per-click campaigns on Amazon.com. The service is currently in Beta and for the moment is only offered to pre-screened applicants – apply here.

Advertisers will be able to promote their wares “on search results pages and on many product detail pages” according to Clickriver’s FAQ. Opening Amazon to the PPC marketplace has some impressive implications considering the millions of consumers that Amazon caters to. For example, advertisers will now be able to advertise next to products that are currently being reviewed for purchase; a qualifier that will undoubtedly heighten the interest of cutting-edge advertisers. Simply put, the cross-promotional potential of this new offering is huge.

If you happen to get in on the beta I would love to get your opinion on this new service. Just drop me a note via ross@stepforth.com or post a comment.

Special thanks to John Battelle and ResourceShelf for cluing me in on this excellent new offering.

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Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

Google Releases Adwords Optimizer

The Google Adwords team released a new beta tool that will allow Adwords users to test and track the success of their PPC landing pages. Called Adwords Website Optimizer this new tool is not widely open to the public quite yet but you can apply to become a beta tester.

As with most Google applications I find this program to be very straight forward and clever. The concept allows for users to create a single landing page, implement Adwords Optimizer code, then configure different variations of the page from within the Optimizer (changing the title, picture, content… anything). Each variation will be served up to Google viewers who click on the advertiser’s PPC listing and then the actions that the viewer takes will be tracked to calculate the effectiveness of the landing page in comparison to the other versions. Reports are provided along with some very straight forward statistics to make it simple for the average Adwords user to use the system successfully. Read more…

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