Google removes addiction treatment ads from UK search results

Google has removed search ads related to addiction treatment in the UK, following an investigation by The Sunday Times (registration required).
The investigation revealed an ongoing issue with middlemen bidding on the terms and receiving large kickbacks from the private centers where the searchers are ultimately referred to, in a practice called “patient brokering.”
The companies frequently masquerade as impartial help lines without disclosing their business model to the searchers that encounter them. The move to remove them from UK results follows an earlier change in the US. Google began removing ads from addiction treatment-related query results in the US starting in September of last year.
The practice of patient brokering is illegal in several states in the US, but it is not illegal in the UK. Critics of the practice cite this as one of the reasons for the increased cost of care, pointing out the high commissions paid out to the referral agents have to come from somewhere. Those

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There’s nothing stopping climate change deniers from using Google AdWords

Targeted, personalized ads have long been held up as a win-win-win, for consumers, advertisers and publishers. An article from The New York Times about climate change deniers using Google AdWords to promote their agenda pokes (more) holes in that optimistic vision.
In the Times article, Hiroko Tabuchi laid out how ads proclaiming climate change a hoax appeared at the top of Google search results when searching in private browsing mode. Yet, when the climate change reporter had private browsing mode on — and Google could access more signals such as past search and browsing history to target ads to users most likely to click — ads from environmental groups, not climate change denying groups, appeared.
The Times describes the climate change-denying advertisers as having figured out how to game Google’s system: “The climate denialist ads are an example of how contrarian groups can use the internet’s largest automated advertising systems to their advantage, gaming the system to find a

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New test prominently showcases Google Express in mobile search results

Image: Google
This week, we spotted a new treatment for Google Express in the search results. This included two new elements: a promotion for the program at the top of the results and a new look for Google Express ads in the Shopping carousel.
The “Get it with Google Express” promotion at the very top of the results, just below the navigation, touts the program’s easy checkout and free delivery. The Google Express Shopping ad features the program logo and displays the participating retailer name — in this case, Walmart — selling the product showcased in the ad.

These changes combine to make the Google Express program much more prominent on the page. Google typically displays these ads with “Google Express” in place of the retailer name and “Free shipping” in the promotion area of the ad. Here are examples of these ads in a Knowledge Panel and a regular Shopping carousel:
The test is quite limited. It’s running on mobile

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5 (less obvious) PPC trends to watch in 2018

In closing out our big recap of all the big 2017 trends and changes in PPC, I predict we’ll see trends in artificial intelligence, audience targeting, attribution and local marketing continue to develop in 2018.
Those are all exciting areas, but that’s not a particularly earth-shattering prediction. Here is a look at five trends that are related but slightly askew from the major themes that will play out in paid search over the coming year.
1. Structured data will matter even more
It’s not just for SEO, and I suspect we’ll be talking about structured data much more on the ads side in 2018. Cindy Krum makes the case in her (must-read) column on mobile SEO predictions for 2018 that structured data will become a bigger factor in the year ahead as the mobile-first index rolls out. Krum primarily discusses Schema markup, but advertisers also provide files of structured data via product feeds in Merchant Center and Business data feeds

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PPC 2017: Epic review of the biggest trends & updates in paid search

As 2017 draws to a close, let’s take a moment to catch our breaths and look back at the whirlwind that was PPC in 2017.
There wasn’t a big change that dominated the landscape like enhanced campaigns of 2013 or expanded text ads of 2016, but multiple trends created an atmosphere of constant, incremental change this year. However, if we were to dub 2017 the year of something in search marketing, it would clearly be the year of the machine. While machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence aren’t new to search marketing, their use became pervasive in 2017.
Here’s a look back at the big developments and key trends that happened in PPC in 2017 that will continue to inform and influence our work in 2018.
Finally past the year of mobile, this was the year of AI in search
Sure, there is still work to do in improving mobile experiences and conversion rates, and we’ll continue to see

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What you learn from talking with Google’s largest advertisers all day, every day

There’s a position at Google called “Chief Search Evangelist.” It’s evolved in the years since Fred Vallaeys filled that role, now focusing on meeting with our advertisers in person when they come to visit Google on-site. I think my job is pretty cool, but I must admit that the idea of talking search ads day-in, day-out with people at the cutting edge of their craft makes me more than a bit jealous. Nicolas Darveau-Garneau, who currently fills the role of Chief Search Evangelist, is the man whose job turns me a light shade of green with professional envy.
I learn so much every time I talk with Nick, so I thought it would be fun to sit him down and pick his brain about all of those meetings he gets to have. Here’s an edited transcript of the wide-ranging conversation we had recently about automation, growth, keywords and more.
Nicolas Darveau-Garneau, Chief Search Evangelist at Google
Lawson: What are the

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Supercharge your email marketing with Google AdWords

I have a confession to make.
The odds of my instantly deleting one of the many marketing emails I receive each day are about as good as Tom Brady and the Patriots making the playoffs — meaning it’s pretty likely to happen.
Unfortunately for all you email marketers out there, I’m not alone. According to email marketing service MailChimp, the average email open rate across industries is below 25 percent, with a click rate of 2 to 3 percent. That means that, on average, you’d need to send 100 emails to get two or three people to take any action. All that time and energy spent crafting the perfect email marketing campaign will be wasted if you don’t create a complementary strategy to get more sales from your hard-earned email list.
The good news is that you can use Google AdWords as your complementary strategy by simply leveraging the existing data you have on your email subscribers. Let’s dive into

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AdWords advertisers can use phone numbers & addresses for Google Customer Match targeting

Google has added more ways for businesses to target their known customers with AdWords campaigns. As of this month, advertisers can upload phone numbers and mailing addresses for Customer Match retargeting and similar audiences.
Launched in 2015, Customer Match lets marketers upload lists of customers or other proprietary lists —  newsletter subscribers, for example — into Google AdWords to target (or exclude) search and display ads to those users. Until now, Customer Match only supported email list uploads.
As with email data, Google attempts to match phone number and mailing address information with user-provided data in Google accounts.
Hashed email addresses and phone numbers are matched up with Google’s own hashed strings to find matches. The matches are then added to marketers’ Customer Match lists.
For mailing address matching, Google says it “joins hashed name and address data for Google accounts to construct a matching key. After you’ve uploaded your list with hashed customer names and addresses (don’t hash zip and

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‘Purchases on Google’ Shopping ads test is running on iOS devices

AmsStudio / Shutterstock.com
Google appears to be testing Purchases on Google ads on iOS devices.
Purchases on Google ads enable consumers to buy products shown in Google Shopping ads right from Google-hosted landing pages when users have payments set up through their Google accounts. The product launched in pilot on Android devices in 2015 and opened up in beta to US advertisers this spring.
Below are a couple of examples of the Purchases on Google ads we spotted this morning on iOS. Each is slugged with “Easy checkout.”

It’s not clear how long these ads have been available on iOS. With the initial pilot launch in 2015, Google said Purchases on Google would come to iOS in the “coming months,” but it appears to have taken much longer than that, perhaps closer to the beta opening up. We’ve asked Google for comment and will update here if and when we get a response. Update: We received confirmation that these ads have been available on

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Google’s new custom intent audiences and you

In mid-November, pre-empting the hellish holiday shopping season, Google unveiled a slew of new features designed to help advertisers maximize their AdWords budgets. While promotion extensions and ad variations are neat and all, the thing I’m most stoked about is the new custom intent audiences feature on Google Display Network (GDN).
If you haven’t checked out Ginny Marvin’s quick summary of what they are (linked above), here’s the gist: Custom intent audiences offer advertisers the opportunity to use the GDN to find “people who want to buy the specific products you offer — based on data from your campaigns, website and YouTube channel.” They come in two distinct flavors:

Create-your-own. Like a trip to your favorite pizza chain (but for the GDN), you can mash topics and URLs together like mushrooms and pepperoni in order to target net-new prospects who are probably into your product or service.
Auto-created. No idea where to start with the Display Network? Let your ol’ pal Google help!

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