For those that dislike advertising and pop-ups Norton Internet Security 2004 is a dream come true, but for advertisers it could be your worst nightmare…
The newest version of Norton Personal Firewall includes a new web assistant that allows users to block ads and pop-ups, this setting is turned on by default and is stirring up some controversy, but how does this affect the PPC world?
For an advertiser running a Google AdWords campaign, you may be losing out on potential traffic when a user performs a search on Google, AdWords and sponsored listings become un-clickable! If the Searcher has Norton Personal Firewall 2004 installed, and the ad blocker option is selected, (turned on by default), the searcher will see a mutated version of your ad. All titles are removed and the remainder of the add is left un-clickable. Probably the biggest problem with this is that ad impressions will still be recorded by Google. Since payment isn’t by the impression, this doesn’t cost the advertiser anything directly, but indirectly not only do you lose the chance at a potential sale, it reduces your Click Through Rate, effectively reducing your ranked position.
Google AdWords are probably the best known target, but by no means does this stop there. Featured sites on MSN, Sponsored sites on Yahoo (supplied by Overture), paid advertising on many other sites, as well as banner advertising are all affected, as are many affiliate links.
I suspect that Google is working on a fix for this problem, as it only seems fitting to do so. Unfortunately I was unable to reach David Krane, public relations manager at Google by press time to get verification.
Until a fix is announced at Google to prevent Norton from disabling AdWords links, there is little that can be done from an advertiser standpoint. My best advice at this time is to continue to focus on well-targeted ad copy. Well-written ad copy is essential to draw the attention of the user, if you write an ad that is focused enough you may get the odd searcher that is determined to type your URL into the address bar, however, this is unlikely to draw much traffic.
If you run an affiliate website and are concerned that your links are being blocked by Norton, I suggest contacting your affiliate manager to see if they have developed any solutions.
The most notable problem with Norton’s new ad blocking techniques is that at times it will inadvertently block non-ad related material. If your Site Logos or header images fall within a set of specific dimensions it will be flagged as a banner and removed from your site. In order to be effective at ad blocking, something will have to be done to solve this.