Month: October 2014

Trick to Click Disapprovals – Going haywire.

Getting a stream of disapprovals notices for “Trick to Click” since yesterday 22-Oct-2014.

It seems whatever the new process to detect these is itself flawed. I can only assume that it is an automated AI process of image classification & detection. Because no human would be making such mistakes. So far the funniest one is an ad for a Fiat Hatchback. Not sure how a picture of a car and it’s price qualifies as “trick to click”.

The element that is common so far in all of the disapproved ads is that they have circles or ovals in the image. In the case of the car ad, it has round head lights, wheels and an oval side mirror, if you take your glasses off & squint really hard you might think those are buttons. And this is why I think it is an automated detection algorithm rather than human.


Disapproval Reason


Image trick-to-click: To help make sure that our ads are relevant, useful, and easy to interact with, we don’t allow promotions that are not clearly identifiable as promotions. For example, we don’t allow images in ads that simulate computer functions (like an official system warning) or that could potentially trick people into clicking the ad (like promotions that appear to be a software download button). To run your ad, replace the image with one that does not contain this type of content.

See the policy to learn how to fix your ad:


A few years back when text detection in images started, I had ads getting disapproved on trademark grounds because a vehicle number plate or badge clashed with a trademark term (from a non-related industry) , manuall re-approval requests were required.

Anyway, hopefully this will be fixed soon. We reported it yesterday and provided more examples today.
Nobody likes having valid ads flagged as disapproved.

edit: As of 24-Oct-2014 Issues appears fixed. All reported errors were re-approved, no recurrence of issues.

Sign the Petition – Adwords keyword close variants are NOT for everyone

Imagine you specifically invited someone out to an intimate dinner and their whole family showed up? (And by the way, you are paying for all of them.) Well that is effect of ‘close variants of keywords’.

You get the related word family…

Now you must say “please come to dinner with me”, but do not bring* your mother, father, brother, friend, neighbour.
The *negative list gets quite long. Who would put up with that if we had to do that in the real world?

There are cases where you might want everyone e.g a party, where it saves writing an invite for everyone and you are happy for anyone vaguely related to your friends to turn up.

But there are definitely cases where you want exactly what you asked for. What is wrong here is that Google took away your option to choose. You, as the one paying Google, had the power to decide if this kind of “bring a friend” option is what you want with the exact or phrase you are targeting. Now you don’t. It sucks to be a Google client hey?

Anyway, it is mainly long-term Adwords professionals who are jumping up and down about this, because we know & understand the impact. In the grand scheme of things, we only a small number versus all of the self managed set & forget accounts out there. But would it really hurt to leave this as an advanced option for those few who need it / understand it?

“More clicks” is not the same as “better clicks”. It is “better clicks” that is far harder to achieve. Now we have to spend more time saying what you don’t want vs saying what you do want..

Please sign the petition.

Your business does not exist in a vacuum

If only businesses existed in vacuums, data & experimentation would be more repeatable and predictable. Most business owners would acknowledge that outside factors will play a part, but these seems to be forgotten when there is drop in visitors or a change in visitor behaviour on the site.. the knee-jerk culprit always seems to be poor old ppc campaign.

There are many factors that affect a businesses performance on the web. Some of those factors are online and some are offline. Here are a few things to consider when something unexpected happens, Remember “Nothing is constant. Things always change.” If you didn’t change, you can bet something or someone else did.

Online Changes:

Google rolls out another algorithm change for its search engine.
Keep an eye on this page, it lists them and the related dates.

Key Effects. Your organic search position & visitor numbers changes. Can be positive, but odds are it was negative for you.

Side Effects. Don’t be lulled into thinking that an Organic search change won’t impact on your AdWords Campaigns.
(PPC) price, click-thru-rates (CTR), quality scores & position become volatile. This often settles after a week or so. And usually results in a new market high for the bids, before it slowly decays again.

e.g When Panda 2.1 aimed at removing spam listings rolled out in Oct 2013, it was so successful at improving the quality of organic search results that its impacts were hard felt in many AdWords accounts. Ads that had a historic high CTR 15%+,  suddenly found their Ads weren’t getting clicked on at the same rate when the organic results were improved.

This resulted in poor quality scores because the Ads & keywords were now performing below their historic “expected click rates”. Keywords stopped serving as QS dropped from 8-10 down to 3 or below. Bids were increased in reaction to try and get them showing again. People with auto-pause or auto-bid on, found over the space of a weekend that either all of their keywords had been paused or their bids were way up. Campaigns set on “optimise for Conversion” failed to reach their targets and Cost Per Acquisition blew out. The run-on effect of all that machine optimising was not unlike the machine-led sell-off on the stock market . Because the Panda roll out started before it was officially announced, many people were scratching theirs heads at these sudden fails in their accounts.


The rise of mobile: This has been a long slow change, but it is gaining speed.

Key Effects: Reducing desktop search volume. Increased mobile & tablet site visitors. Different user behaviour. We are not in a multi device world. Research on mobile / tablet, purchase if easy, else may revisit on desktop. Expect to see increased Sessions to Conversion as they jump from device to device before purchase, but unique visitors will stay roughly the same.

Side Effects: In some industries it may lead to much reduced searching as major players position an app that locks people into reusing them – they’ll never need to search again. Has this happened in your industry? Just how much has your “new visitors” from search dropped?

Key Take-Aways

1. Flash is Dead! Yay! (thank you Steve Jobs). Odds are that at least 30%* of your site visitors can’t see your flash-based promo video on your site. Test it yourself with an iphone or Safari on new Mac. Can you see it? If not ask your web developer for help. HTML5 Video is the new way.
* check your own site stats in Google Analytics under “Audience / Technology / Browser & OS / Flash Version”. Look at how many (not set) you have in the “Flash Version” column. 

Offline Changes:

Events in the real world impact too. There are too many to list them all. Here are few to get you thinking.

Weather: Rain is great for umbrella sales, (and chocolate coated ice-cream oddly enough). But it isn’t so great when it is a flood and your in tourism. You may think that a flood or fires or any other natural disaster in a different city of your state won’t affect you. But if you are reliant on international visitors, they may not see it as geographically isolated as you do. Tourism to all of Japan suffered after the tsunami, all of QLD suffers when Cairns has a cyclone or Brisbane has flood.

A heatwave in a cool climate will impact on their desire to visit your tropical get-away.

Stock Market Volatility: Yes there are the obvious crashes like the Global Financial Crisis. But equally when the market is unstable it can affect consumer confidence and spending habits, just as much as the threat of unemployment can.

To be continued…

Google Merchant Centre – Access Sharing still a dud

Of all of the Google products that “don’t play well with the other kiddies”, Google Merchant Centre is the worst.
You would think that since it moved from “free shopping” to “paid shopping” that it would have got some loving by now.

(OK, I will acknowledge that the (broken) spreadsheets template has finally been removed. But why was it left there for more than a year after is was reported?)

But overall it still has some very rough edges.

Account Sharing. Yay! What a great idea, you can get your Adwords account manager or web developer to help find/fix issues. Just like you can with Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Adwords, Docs etc.

Woops… not so fast there is a catch*.

Inviting a new user
You can invite others to gain access to your Google Merchant Center account from the Users tab under Settings. These invited users sign in to your account with their own logins, so you can safeguard your own login information.

To grant access to additional users, follow these steps:

Sign in to your Merchant Center account.
Click the Settings tab.
Select Users.
Click the + User button.
Enter the email address of the person you want to invite.
Select the access level you’d like to grant to the user.
Click Save.
*Note: Each Google account may still only be associated with one Merchant Center account.

And what a nasty catch that is.. An account can only be associated with one Merchant Centre Account.
So whoever you are sharing it with, they will need to give you a fresh gmail account. They can’t consolidate access under one login, like they can with the other products.

If they have an account that lets them manage multiple accounts (a multi-user merchant account),
they can only have you in that workflow if they created the merchant account. There is no equivalent of an “invite” from the manager end like their is in AdWords.
This severely impedes professionals from helping with owner-created merchant accounts.

I hope Google fixes soon.