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Google violates its own invalid traffic policy at the expense of advertisers

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Data-driven thinking is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas about the digital revolution in the media.

Today’s column is written by Luke Taylor, COO of Traffic Guard.

The purpose of advertising is to influence behavior. But in Google’s search environment, it’s worth considering. Is advertising influencing behavior, or is it primarily acting as the default gateway to business?

The discussion of paid search that preys on organics isn’t new, but taking steps to address this with your own paid search ads offers the opportunity to make search ads more effective.

This opportunity is greatest for consumer goods and services that are frequently purchased online, such as cosmetics, entertainment, electronics and travel.

Take Joe, who likes online gambling. He bets on all big events and has a SportsBettingCo account. In front of the Super Bowl, he googles SportsBettingCo and clicks through the site unaware that he’s just been involved in paid search ads at the top of the search results.

Did Advertising Affect Behavior? No. Joe uses this account to make all bets. If the ad wasn’t there, Joe should still have arrived at SportsBettingCo. Prank is intended. Joe actually uses ads as bookmarks for entries on the site.

Bidding on your brand makes perfect sense as a defensive strategy to protect your viewers from competitors trying to trick you (even if you can’t buy all four spots). In contrast, there is a segment of people searching for your brand that arrives at your site regardless of whether you show them ads. Also, Google’s search experience is designed to click on ads and get them out of your pocket rather than organic rankings.

Policy violation

Advertising scams earn a fair amount of media mileage, but their less sexy siblings have much less invalid traffic (IVT). IVT includes not only advertising fraud, but also non-genuine, non-malicious form of traffic that has the potential to bring a return on investment to advertisers. Specifically, it has no potential to affect the behavior of your target audience. Google defines IVT as an engagement that can artificially inflate advertiser costs and publisher revenue, and among other guidelines, publishers to prevent ads from imitating surrounding content. I advise you.

If you apply this policy logic to ads that Google runs in search, they won’t pass. Given Google’s own definition of IVT, the practice of placing an ad on top of an organic list means that there is always traffic navigating the ad without realizing it is an ad. The cost of clicks from an audience segment that would have arrived at the site regardless is artificial.

Over the years, Google’s paid search ads have evolved to look like organic search results. They are covering more and more search engine results page (SERP) real estate and are prioritized over organic search results. In fact, when people navigate ads, they are often unaware of that fact and follow the shortest path to their desired destination. This shows the similarity between paid search ads and organic search results.

All signs indicate that Google Ads is guilty of not following its own rules.

what to do?

When it comes to branded ads, it’s important to define the difference between branded ads for gradual uplift and branded ads that serve as a walkway for patrons to habitually navigate to your site.

Bidding on brand terms is a good defense strategy, but only part of your audience needs protection. Some people scroll over an inch over competitors’ ads to find results for organic sites. So how can you take the advertising costs that would have been spent on people coming to your site anyway and redirect it to impact more new traffic to get there? Is it?

Gain visibility-The first step is to understand how much budget is being spent to reach the people who are unknowingly involved in advertising to get to your site. You can’t read the hearts of every Google employee, but you can see if there’s a cohort of customers that come back frequently through branded advertising, and how much advertising spending their activities have spent. Measure Baseline-Before making any changes, measure paid and organic baseline conversions as a benchmark for comparisons referenced in steps 3 and 4. Take Action-You can implement custom validation on the source of iterative engagement using search validation tools for optimization. Measure Changes-After implementing custom validation, check if the total number of conversions has changed. The success is as follows: Paid Search-Total conversions have decreased due to the lack of previously reliable customer ad engagement. They are still transforming, but they are sitting in your organic bucket. Although the number of conversions is declining, we need to increase the number of new conversions because much of our budget is impacting our impressive audience. Organic Search-A larger increase in total conversions than a decrease from paid search. All customers who previously navigated through advertising from habits now live in this bucket. Overall-Increases total conversions as more advertising spend reaches net new customers.

The phenomenon of paid search that preys on organic search has been debated for years. Most search professionals can see that it’s happening, but many don’t know how to solve it. This is an opportunity for search advertisers to regain their budget and bring net profit to their overall marketing efforts.

Follow LukeTaylor (@lukeartscom) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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