Archive for the 'Pay Per Click' Category

Driving Global Trade Through Internet Marketing

Metafocus Global Internet Marketing ForumI’m speaking at the Metafocus “Driving Global Trade Through Internet Marketing” forum on 27th May at the Novotel Nottingham, J25 of the M1. To quote the marketing:

This forum has been developed for decision makers in International & Export Companies to help them use the Internet to reach overseas markets, expand their business and drive profit.

The event starts at 8.30am and lasts until midday (slightly earlier actually, to allow time for networking). The cost is £55 inc. VAT and the itinerary is:

9.00 Andrew Schlich, AST Language Services – Successful Communication with your Overseas Customers
9.20 Anja Nelskamp, Metafocus – Why Languange and Culture Matters
9.35 Ian Lockwood, Internet Consultant – The Importance of Ongoing Online Promotion
10.05 Alan Clements, Metafocus – Why You Need a Global Internet Marketing Strategy
10.50 Panel Q&A – Joined by Thomas Schaal (International Trade Advisor for the UKTI)

As you can see, my slot isn’t strictly international-focused, but it is relevant to all online marketing. If you have any interest in marketing outside of the UK, I strongly recommend attending – Metafocus have developed a real reputation for specialist knowledge of international online marketing.

You can book online here.

AdWords Phishing Scam: Beware (google-rs.com)

I received a forwarded email from a client this morning, apparently from adwords-noreply@google.com (the usual AdWords notification email address), telling us that “Your Google Adwords Account has stopped running this morning.”

Obviously my client was a little worried, but a quick scan of the email made it clear that this was a phishing scam, no doubt designed to extract your credit card/bank details as you “verify” your account. Two things gave it away:

1. Far from great grammar/spelling:

Some of the ads have stopped running today (Monday, 12 April 2010).

If you want to get your ad back up and running you need to optimize the campaign to improve the CTR. The link below has some helpful tips, but, in a nutshell, you need to look at your keywords and your ad text. Make sure your keywords are jighly relevant and then make sure that each keyword in the ad group makes sense in terms of the ad text associated with this ad group (usually this means you need to create more ad groups with a smaller number of keywords). Having a tight connection between keywords and ad text helps improve CTR, which should fix your problem.

2. Hover over the links to “Click here to get your ads back up” or “verify the status of your account” and you will see it directs you to adwords.google-rs.com/ads/signin.html – very similar to Google’s own AdWords address, bar the “-rs” of course. Indeed, try to visit the site (I don’t recommend that!) and you will see Google blocks it as a suspected phishing site.

Now whilst phishing email scams aren’t rare (how many emails have you had from banks that you’ve never had an account with!?), this is probably only the second or third time I’ve seen it for AdWords. I’ve seen eBay, PayPal and various other ones over the years. Remember to check those links before you click!

Lavora Google Maps & AdWords Rip-Off: BT Web Clicks Mk.2?

My God, I have just come across a rip-off even worse than BT’s Web Clicks offering (you might not have thought that possible!) I’ve just seen their website offering to list you on Google Maps for a one-off fee of £99. Yes, £99 to spend ten minutes completing a form about your business for a free service from Google!

I was led to their website after a client forwarded me an email from Lavora, offering to advertise their website on AdWords using “5 specific search terms”, for £199 a month with a £20 set-up fee. Sound familiar?

That’s a very similar deal to BT Web Clicks, another fixed-price AdWords service that is just wrong, wrong, wrong for a number of reasons:

  1. Whilst a fixed cost is helpful for budgeting, there is no transparency on what you’re actually paying for, how much it’s costing (because it’s Google who are actually charging for those clicks, not the supplier) and no rollover. So, if you don’t use up your £199 of clicks, you don’t get the remainder carried over to the next month. Hardly good value. You can pretty much guarantee that these suppliers won’t be paying anything like £199 for those clicks either, and I very much doubt that they’ll let the campaign run over budget (well, budget less their profit margin…)
  2. Without the transparency, you won’t get the AdWords account linked to your Analytics either, so measuring raw traffic or campaign performance will be virtually impossible. How do you know it’s worth paying that £199 a month?
  3. You get to choose “5 specific search terms” – what do you think the chances of choosing “mortgages”, “mobile phone contracts”, “car insurance”, “life insurance” and “diamond jewellery” are? There are bound to be a huge amount of qualifiers on these things, assuming you get to make the choice at all. My guess is they will tell you what the “best” keywords are, based on their profit margin, not the volume or quality of traffic.
  4. They claim exclusivity (“we’re only offering this to two businesses like yours in your area”), but of course anyone can use AdWords, so there is absolutely no benefit to that statement.

What really gets my goat about these things is that they are profiteering from people’s ignorance. Morally wrong, but not illegal of course. I really hope nobody reading this has been duped, but having heard a number of stories about BT Web Clicks, I fear the worst…

Follow me on Twitter: @ianlockwood

15% Off SMX Advanced London: May 17-18

SMX Advanced London May 17-18I’m pleased to announce a discount on attendance at SMX Advanced London on May 17 & 18 2010. Using the discount code IANLOCK010 when registering will get you a 15% discount on the price. Early bird rates are in operation until 28th Feb, so get in early!

The full programme hasn’t been announced yet, but I’m sure it will be packed with useful search marketing info and they have a strong “no sales pitches” policy.

Let me know if you’re going! :)

MyDeco Click Reporting – How Retailers Can Get Ripped Off By CPC

I had a click report from My Deco sent to me by a client on Friday, asking for my comments. MyDeco is a comparison shopping engine in the home interiors vertical market; they work on a combination of affiliate comission (CPA) and pay per click (CPC) to generate their revenue, so retailers pay for clicks through to their website and a percentage commission if a sale is made.

This particular client has been very disappointed by MyDeco’s performance, with no sales being generated and a very small number of visitor referrals. So it was something of a surprise to see the click report claiming hundreds of visits with a resultant bill of three figures, when Google Analytics reported visits barely into double figures from MyDeco in the same period.

The accompanying email from MyDeco claimed “We have excluded Google, Yahoo and other known bots in line with industry standards, as well as repeat/multiple clicks from the same IP (double clicks)… We would also like to point out that some CPC retailers have experienced differences between their Google analytics reports and the volume of clicks in the attached reports.  This is due to the inherent limitations of Google analytics software, to identify trends rather than 100% accurate datasets.” Well, I think Google might have something to say about that, but it becomes pretty clear why they’re making excuses when you open the report.

Inherent “limitations” of Analytics accetped, do you really think that it is so limited that it would fail to report 97% of all visitors from MyDeco!? Seriously, you think Analytics is likely to be that wrong? I can’t see it.

But then we come to the real crux of the matter. The report provided, by default, opens to show clicks listed per day for the period. If you expand each day, it tells you the time of each click and the product that was clicked on. I found several instances where there were five clicks from the same product within a minute of each other. The charge was 36p per click every time. What do you think the chances of five different people clicking on exactly the same product within the space of a minute are, taking into account that we are talking about a three month period with less than 300 clicks in total? They must be the same person each time. So what happened to excluding “repeat/multiple clicks from the same IP”?

This kind of rubbish is disgraceful and gives CPC a bad name. How many retailers would just open the report, look at the number of clicks and pay the invoice? If you’re a MyDeco retailer, I urge you to examine your click reports in detail and see if it tallies with your Analytics and log files. In this case, the discrepancy is huge and the cause is quite clear – complete failure of the MyDeco click cleaning software to do its job, very much in MyDeco’s favour.

Google begins “interest-based” advertising

Google logo Google has announced its new “interest-based” advertising, allowing AdWords adverts to be targeted at users who have visited particular websites. The service is in beta now and allows advertisers to target specific groups, whilst providing a way for AdSense publishers to target ads better and hence generate more revenue.

There’s a good overview of the system here.