Today we're further reinforcing our existing botnet defenses across our ad systems through a new feature that automates the filtering of traffic from three of the top ad fraud botnets, amongst those we are monitoring and defending against. One of the key benefits of this new feature is that it is resilient to possible changes to the malware that generates this botnet traffic.
This move boosts our defenses against invalid traffic generated by some nasty ad fraud malware, including Bedep and two other malware families that we have code-named Beetal and Changthangi. Together these three botnets are comprised of over 500,000 infected user machines.
Today we’d like to take this opportunity to take a deeper look at ad fraud botnets.
Ad fraud botnets: a menace to the advertising ecosystem
Ad fraud botnets are armies of malware-infected computers that are controlled by malicious fraudsters intent on generating large amounts of non-human ad traffic volume, typically for unscrupulous publishers. As a result, ad fraud botnets are a major threat to the budgets of advertisers, the reputation of publishers, and the safety of consumers. And this threat is considerable, given that hundreds of thousands of computers around the globe are infected with malware used specifically for ad fraud.
The Bedep Botnet size over the course of 60 days. Dips in the graph represent weekends, when some infected machines are turned off.
Global distribution and concentration of Bedep Malware.
Botnet traffic is difficult to consistently filter in advertising platforms because malware authors try to make their fraudulent traffic look as human as possible so that it resembles legitimate traffic. For example, botnet traffic has many of the same characteristics as real traffic, including the use of common browsers, and typical user behavior on a web page (e.g., scrolling, clicking, and mouse movement).
Our move to consistently and confidently cut out the traffic from these botnets, despite any changes in the malware on which they’re based, represents a significant milestone in the defense of our advertising ecosystem.
The art and science of protecting against botnets at scale
Identifying ad fraud malware and protecting ad platforms against botnets is a sophisticated effort that requires deep technical knowledge, diligence, and the ability to think several steps ahead. It’s a game of chess against an opponent that is constantly changing the rules.
In addition, it takes robust and extensive infrastructure to properly analyze malware threats at scale. For example, there are millions of malware programs out in the wild, although not all of this malware is associated with ad fraud botnets. This scenario represents a considerable technical challenge, since the malware, along with a vast amount of botnet traffic, needs to be continuously analyzed. To compound the challenge, there are hundreds of thousands of new malware programs produced each day that our systems need to analyze as well.
Our team has expanded its expertise by working to gain a deep understanding of the Bedep, Beetal, and Changthangi malware families. Subsequently, we have expanded developed the capability to significantly protect our systems against traffic generated by this malware through an automated, scalable, and seamless filter. This filter is already available to all marketers on DoubleClick Bid Manager and Google Display Network (GDN).
A bold move, but there’s more to come
We believe in fighting the good fight in order to stop malicious actors in the advertising ecosystem. We also know that our success is not based solely on sophisticated algorithms or robust, highly-scalable infrastructure. Our success also relies on a team of warrior scientists that combines art and science to innovate and cultivate, relying on creativity and collective wisdom to effect change in unique ways.
This is a really exciting start to the year for us, yet we know that our work is not done yet. We will continue to be vigilant, working hard to protect our systems from fraudsters in 2016 and beyond. Stay tuned.
Posted by Andres Ferrate, Chief Advocate, Google Ad Traffic Quality
- Monitor campaign performance like clicks, CTR and CPC
- Update bids and budgets
- Act on suggestions that may help improve campaign performance
- Get real-time alerts and notifications about your billing and ad status
- Call a Google expert
Customers like The Honest Company, MuleSoft, and PMG use the AdWords app to easily manage their campaigns, stay in touch with the needs of their customers, and quickly access important business insights – from anywhere.
“Amidst the hectic holiday festivities, this app saved me from having to leave the dinner table to monitor performance and make quick changes to my accounts. That meant more time with my family. I'm excited for what's to come!”
– Josh Franklin, Manager, Search Marketing, The Honest Company
“The app helps me access high level data on the go which can come in handy in the boardroom, or anytime I need to quickly understand how our campaigns are performing. Also, having the ability to make adjustments to our campaigns – such as changing bids and budget – is invaluable.”
– Nima Asrar Haghighi, Director, Digital Marketing & Analytics, MuleSoft
“The consumer shift to mobile means our retail clients' campaigns have to be responsive to meet the needs of consumers at all times of the day. The app makes it easy for us to address issues without being chained to our laptops. PMG has been able to deliver prompt account adjustments from campaign to keyword level for our clients, as well as keep our customer satisfaction rates high.”
– Kyle Knox, Account Manager, PMG
You can learn more about the AdWords app in the AdWords Help Center.
Posted by Sugeeti Kochhar, Product Manager, AdWords
When ads are good, they connect you to products or services you’re interested in and make it easier to get stuff you want. They also keep a lot of what you love about the web—like news sites or mobile apps—free.
But some ads are just plain bad—like ads that carry malware, cover up content you’re trying to see, or promote fake goods. Bad ads can ruin your entire online experience, a problem we take very seriously. That’s why we have a strict set of policies for the kinds of ads businesses can run with Google—and why we’ve invested in sophisticated technology and a global team of 1,000+ people dedicated to fighting bad ads. Last year alone we disabled more than 780 million ads for violating our policies—a number that's increased over the years thanks to new protections we've put in place. If you spent one second looking at each of these ads, it’d take you nearly 25 years to see them all!
Here are some of the top areas we focused on in our fight against bad ads in 2015:
Busting bad ads
Some bad ads, like those for products that falsely claim to help with weight loss, mislead people. Others help fraudsters carry out scams, like those that lead to “phishing” sites that trick people into handing over personal information. Through a combination of computer algorithms and people at Google reviewing ads, we’re able to block the vast majority of these bad ads before they ever get shown. Here are some types of bad ads we busted in 2015:
We suspended more than 10,000 sites and 18,000 accounts for attempting to sell counterfeit goods (like imitation designer watches).
We blocked more than 12.5 million ads that violated our healthcare and medicines policy, such as ads for pharmaceuticals that weren’t approved for use or that made misleading claims to be as effective as prescription drugs.
Weight loss scams
Weight loss scams, like ads for supplements promising impossible-to-achieve weight loss without diet or exercise, were one of the top user complaints in 2015. We responded by suspending more than 30,000 sites for misleading claims.
In 2015, we stepped up our efforts to fight phishing sites, blocking nearly 7,000 sites as a result.
Unwanted software can slow your devices down or unexpectedly change your homepage and keep you from changing it back. With powerful new protections, we disabled more than 10,000 sites offering unwanted software, and reduced unwanted downloads via Google ads by more than 99 percent.
Trick to click
We got even tougher on ads that mislead or trick people into interacting with them—like ads designed to look like system warnings from your computer. In 2015 alone we rejected more than 17 million.
Creating a better experience
Sometimes even ads that offer helpful and relevant information behave in ways that can be really annoying—covering up what you’re trying to see or sending you to an advertiser’s site when you didn’t intend to go there. In 2015, we disabled or banned the worst offenders.
Accidental mobile clicks
We’ve all been there. You’re swiping through a slideshow of the best moments from the Presidential debate when an ad redirects you even though you didn’t mean to click on it. We’re working to end that. We've developed technology to determine when clicks on mobile ads are accidental. Instead of sending you off to an advertiser page you didn't mean to visit, we let you continue enjoying your slideshow (and the advertiser doesn't get charged).
Bad sites and apps
In 2015, we stopped showing ads on more than 25,000 mobile apps because the developers didn’t follow our policies. More than two-thirds of these violations were for practices like mobile ads placed very close to buttons, causing someone to accidentally click the ad. There are also some sites and apps that we choose not to work with because they don’t follow our policies. We also reject applications from sites and mobile apps that want to show Google ads but don't follow our policies. In 2015 alone, we rejected more than 1.4 million applications.
Putting you in control
We also give you tools to control the type of ads you see. You can always let us know when you believe an ad might be violating our policies.
Mute This Ad
Maybe you’ve just seen way too many car ads recently. “Mute This Ad” lets you click an “X” at the top on many of the ads we show and Google will stop showing you that ad and others like it from that advertiser. You can also tell us why. The 4+ billion pieces of feedback we received in 2015 are helping us show better ads and shape our policies.
Ads Settings Looking ahead to 2016
In 2015, we rolled out a new design for our Ads Settings where you can manage your ads experience. You can update your interests to make the ads you see more relevant, or block specific advertisers all together.
We’re always updating our technology and our policies based on your feedback—and working to stay one step ahead of the fraudsters. In 2016, we’re planning updates like further restricting what can be advertised as effective for weight loss, and adding new protections against malware and bots. We want to make sure all the ads you see are helpful and welcome and we’ll keep fighting to make that a reality.
Posted by Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP, Ads & Commerce
Looking ahead to 2016
All CPM campaigns are now viewable CPM campaigns
As we announced in September, we’re furthering our commitment to make viewability the currency of digital advertising by upgrading all CPM campaigns on the GDN to viewable CPM (vCPM) campaigns. We’ve now completed this upgrade, making the Google Display Network (GDN) one of the only media platforms where advertisers don’t pay for an impression unless it’s actually viewable by a user.
Viewable CPM (vCPM) buying was launched in AdWords in 2013 so advertisers could choose to only pay for display and video impressions that meet the MRC defined industry standard for viewability. Fifty percent or more of the ad must appear on screen — for at least 1 second for display ads and 2 seconds for video ads, as measured by Google’s Active View technology. This year, tens of billions of impressions were filtered out before ever being charged to AdWords advertisers because they didn’t meet this standard.
Viewable CPM helps brand advertisers buy efficiently and reach their campaign goals:
Devialet, an audio equipment company based in Paris, wanted to make more consumers aware of its speakers and amplifiers. To broaden its reach, Devialet shifted its campaigns from CPC to vCPM. As a result, Devialet increased its viewable impressions per dollar by 49% and increased its average time spent on site by 50%.
New viewable frequency capping will give advertisers better control
Frequency capping helps you control how many times your ads appear to the same person. When unviewable impressions are counted toward a frequency cap, a user may not see your ad as many times as you intended.
Starting in the next few weeks, frequency capping will only count viewable impressions for display and video campaigns in AdWords. This will help advertisers maintain better control over how often their ads are actually viewable to users. To learn more about setting a frequency cap, visit the Help Center.
New reporting metrics give a better picture of campaign performance
To give advertisers a better picture of how their display and video campaigns are performing, we’ve added supplementary metrics built on the viewability standard, such as:
- Total impressions that were viewable
- Percentage of impressions that were viewable
- Percentage of viewable ads that were clicked
These metrics give advertisers more clarity on which placements and creatives are driving campaign performance when they are viewable to users.
We’ve long advocated for the adoption of viewability as a common currency to help marketers and publishers work together transparently, efficiently, and with accountability. This is another important step along that journey.
Posted by Glenn Wilson, Product Manager, AdWords
|Click share metric for product groups|
Let’s walk through an example of how to use click share to identify product groups with potential for more traffic to ensure your ads show prominently enough to maximize traffic to your site on Black Friday. First, add the click share column on the Product groups tab. In this example, you see “winter coats” with a click share of 30%. This means that you only got 30 out of every 100 possible clicks on your “winter coats” ads. Second, take this opportunity to adjust your bids for “winter coats” to make your ads more prominent. Third, make sure to check back frequently, especially for your most popular products, to closely monitor click share and continue to optimize bids.
There is more you can do to ensure holiday success. In addition to driving traffic, you’ll want to fine-tune your campaigns to reach new shoppers and drive sales. We’ve created two holiday checklists to help you manage your campaigns over the coming weeks and through the new year:
- Holiday Readiness Checklist: Get your Shopping campaigns Black Friday-ready to connect with shoppers at the moments that matter and convert them into customers
- Holiday Survival Checklist: Follow this checklist to make mid-flight changes to your campaigns and learn how to adjust bids for new trending products
By taking these lists and checking them twice, and tuning your campaigns based on click share insights, you can increase sales this season...and have a happier holiday!
Posted by Dimitris Meretakis, Product Manager, Google Shopping
Video can be an incredibly powerful tool in creating demand for your products. So over the past year, we’ve focused on creating tools on YouTube to help you connect the dots between inspiration and purchase. Today, we’re making these tools readily available to advertisers through AdWords. Here is a rundown of the features we’re launching.
New campaign set-up tailored to your marketing objectives
Setting up a video campaign should be as simple as telling us what action you want consumers to take – and today we’re announcing a way to do that right at the start of the campaign creation process. Whether your end goal is to drive sales, app downloads or to generally build your brand, you can now declare these goals right up front. Further, we’ll tailor the rest of your campaign set-up and optimization for your chosen marketing objective.
|Shopping campaign option|
|App promotion campaign option|
Drive app downloads at your set price with target cost-per-acquisition bidding
The holiday season is incredibly important for app promotion, as consumers outfit their new devices with apps. To start an app promotion campaign with video, select the new “app promotion” option to access settings specifically tailored for promoting apps. You can now use target cost-per-acquisition (CPA) bidding, which lets you define the amount you're willing to pay for a conversion, and then automatically sets your bids to give you as many conversions as possible at that price.
Clients participating in our beta have seen great results, including Com2us, the maker of the game Summoners War, whose Marketing Manager Eric Cho had this to say:
“At Com2us, we use TrueView for app promotion to acquire new app customers at scale across Europe, the Americas and Southeast Asia. Our campaigns are exceeding expectations around volume while maintaining our ROI goals. Target CPA bidding has allowed us to achieve our goals on Android and we look forward to expanding in the future.”
|Target CPA bidding|
New shopping formats now available in AdWords
And today, two powerful performance-oriented formats are available to all advertisers – both TrueView for Shopping and Shopping ads on YouTube are now available in AdWords.
TrueView for Shopping campaigns create interactive video ads that highlight the value of your products and drive consideration. These TrueView video ads have actionable shopping cards embedded in them which provide an easy bridge to purchase for viewers. They are also a powerful audience solution, enabling you to remarket to viewers who may have visited your site or viewed your other videos.
|TrueView for shopping|
Shopping ads on YouTube work even lower in the funnel, by enabling shopping cards on creator videos that feature your products. This is a great way to capture demand when viewers are most interested in exploring and researching products. These also allow you to extend the reach of your Shopping campaigns beyond www.google.com.
To extend your Shopping ads to YouTube, make sure your Shopping campaigns in AdWords are opted into search partners.
These new TrueView features are made possible thanks to our recent migration of TrueView video ads into the core AdWords front end, and represents only the first first step towards a simpler, goal-oriented video ad experience. Now get out there and drive some sales and app downloads with video!
Posted by Diya Jolly, Director, Video Ads Product Management
1 TrueView Brand Lift Meta Analysis of US Q3 2015 campaigns
Consideration n=708 studies
Favorability n=118 studies
Purchase intent n=211 studies
|A "Call" button in a search ad on a mobile device|
Canada, say hello to Google forwarding numbers
Google forwarding numbers are an important step toward measuring the phone calls you receive through Google search ads. When you use Google forwarding numbers with your call extensions and call-only campaigns, we’ll dynamically assign a unique phone number to your ad. When a customer calls that number, AdWords will route the call to your business phone number while providing you with useful information about the caller’s area code, call duration, and whether the call was answered.
Many people who search for local businesses prefer to call a phone number with a recognizable area code, which is why Google forwarding numbers will show a local Google forwarding number, where available. For example, if your business is based in Vancouver, your ads are eligible to use a “604” area code with your Google forwarding number.
Canadian advertisers like belairdirect and 1-800-Got-Junk are already using Google forwarding numbers to improve performance on their call ads:
"As marketers, we are always looking for new ways to leverage technology in order to be more efficient and measure the full value of our ad campaigns. Now, with Google forwarding numbers, we're able to gain valuable insights into the consumer behavior behind calls to make our campaigns and call centers more useful for current and future customers. Furthermore, we've identified that calls that last over 10 minutes are more likely to result in someone signing up for an insurance policy. We can now count these as call conversions to optimize for higher-quality calls." Anne Fortin, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Strategic Relationships, belairdirect
“Call extensions and call-only campaigns help customers reach our service representatives more quickly to schedule a junk pick-up. So far, we’ve been able to generate thousands of leads and now with insights from Google forwarding numbers in Canada, we can monitor call details and filter calls by duration. This gives us vital information on which campaigns are driving the right calls and how we can better invest our advertising spend." Keegan Morrison, PPC Account Manager, 1-800-Got-Junk
Clicks that lead to calls from your website
While call extensions and call-only ads are very effective, many customers also call your business after clicking through a Google ad and learning more about the products and services you offer on your website. Website call conversions is a powerful tool that dynamically inserts a Google forwarding number on your website to identify and measure the calls that occur after a Google ad click. When someone clicks on your website’s phone number or dials it directly from their phone, you can attribute the call and call value back to the keyword and ad that drove the customer.
Advertisers like Blinds.com are already using website call conversions to gain a more holistic picture of their AdWords performance:
“It’s a great idea to implement Google’s website call conversions, particularly if you have a call center that handles over 15% of sales or if you’re faced with the challenge of attributing offline calls to online spend. With website call conversions, we’ve attributed 56% more revenue to mobile ads and measured 173% higher average order value. With these insights, we’ve been able to increase and optimize spend towards keywords that are generating the most call conversions. We’re looking forward to rolling this out to Blinds.ca in Canada.” Michael Nicholas, SEM Specialist
Maximize call value
In addition to measuring call conversions, Google forwarding numbers also allow you to assign a conversion value. For example, a business might assign a revenue value to calls that last over 5 minutes. By measuring these calls, you can automatically optimize your keyword bids to drive more valuable calls using Target ROAS. This flexible bid strategy factors in signals like device, location, and time of day to make auction-time bid adjustments that maximize call conversion value, while reaching your business goals.
With the launch of Google forwarding numbers, you can now report on call metrics and conversions, measure website call conversions, and optimize your bids to drive more valuable phone calls. You can learn more about each of these products in the AdWords Help Center and read our best practices for maximizing performance with calls.
Posted by Amit Agarwal, Product Manager, AdWords
1 Think with Google, The Role of Click to Call in the Path to Purchase, September 2013
*In some cases, a local Google forwarding number may not be available. When this happens, your ad will show a toll-free Google forwarding number instead
Introducing new ad interaction columns
As we add more campaign types into AdWords, we want to help you surface key insights across all of the campaigns you manage. That’s why we’re rolling out three new reporting columns to help you quickly report on some of the most important ad interactions that occur across all of your campaign types.
Starting this week, you’ll notice the following new columns:
- Interactions - An interaction is the main action people take with your ad format— such as clicks for text and shopping ads, views for video ads, and engagements for Lightbox ads.
- Interaction Rate - Interaction rate is used to measure how often people interact with your ad after it’s shown to them—for example, clicks divided by impressions for text ads, or views divided by impressions for video ads.
- Avg Cost - Average cost is the average amount you've paid for your ads divided by total interactions—clicks divided by cost, or views divided by total cost.
When viewing multiple campaign types, these columns give you a more uniform and quick way to view key metrics for your campaign types in a single column. For example, for search, the primary metric you might want to view is clicks. And for video, your primary metric is views. Now, you can use the Interactions column to quickly see a combined metric for clicks and views for each of these campaign types within a single column.
Additionally, to make reporting by specific campaign type easier, you’ll now see your Total rows broken out by campaign type, instead of by network. And you will also see total rows for only the campaign types you manage.
Over time, you may start seeing these columns in other areas of AdWords. To learn how to start using the new ad interactions columns in your AdWords reporting, check out our Help Center.
Posted by Pallavi Naresh, Product Manager, AdWords
With the simplicity of a single interface and a more consistent experience, AdWords makes it easier for you to optimize across campaign types. Plus, you can take advantage of powerful bulk management tools to save time and effort when working on multiple TrueView campaigns. And now that all campaign types share the same structure, we can bring you new features for video, faster than ever before.
Now if you’ll follow us, we’d love to show you around…
In the top left corner, you can find the campaign type selector. This is useful to see only campaigns of a certain type. For instance, selecting “Video” gives you a view of your campaigns that looks similar to AdWords for video – meaning you’ll see only the tabs and columns that are most relevant for managing video campaigns. And best of all, we remember your column preferences whenever you switch among views, so you don’t need to change them around each time you toggle campaign types.
We’re also replacing targeting groups with ad groups, the basic building blocks for Search, Display, and Shopping campaigns. Now every ad group will have a single TrueView format, either in-stream or in-display. Though each ad group has only one format, campaigns can have multiple ad groups so you can still run both in-stream and in-display ads in the same campaign. To create a new campaign, just click the +CAMPAIGN button, click the new Video campaign type, and then create new ad groups within each campaign by clicking +AD GROUP.
Now that TrueView has joined the party in AdWords, you’ll have access to a trove of goodies designed to help you manage, optimize, and report on accounts with lots of campaigns. For instance, bulk UI editing lets you modify information for multiple campaigns at once – directly from the UI, and bulk uploads let you download a snapshot of your campaigns, make changes en masse, and upload the changes live to your account. And report scheduling gives you the ability to set up a schedule for reports to run automatically, and have them emailed regularly to account users.
Reporting for video campaigns is getting more powerful as well, as you’ll now have the ability to filter your results to isolate things like campaign name, label, cost, and conversions.
You’ll also see popular video features in familiar places in AdWords. For example, video remarketing is now in the AdWords shared library and YouTube account linking is in the Linked accounts section. Plus you’ll be able to see analytics for your video ads within the new "Videos" tab, and manage your targeting within the "Video targeting" tab.
Customers who’ve previewed the new interface found it saves them time and offers more powerful reporting. "As avid users of TrueView, we were eager to beta test the new TrueView in AdWords, and see how the change impacted our most complex campaign setups," said Pixability CTO Andreas Goeldi. "The increased functionality allows for improved workflow, better reporting, and significant time saved."
Whether your goals are to drive direct response or to build your brand, you now have a single, unified tool to address your full range of marketing goals. Starting today, you’ll be able to upgrade your campaigns to the new ad group structure, and say goodbye to those days of going to “All Video Campaigns” to get to your TrueView campaigns. To upgrade, just head to AdWords for video by clicking All video campaigns (once more, for old time’s sake) and click into the Upgrade Center to easily switch over all your campaigns in one fell swoop. And don’t worry – all your historical stats and targeting will carry over (just drill down to the campaign level to see them). If you’d rather not upgrade your campaigns yourself, no problem – we’ll automatically upgrade your campaigns, starting in six weeks.
Posted by the fka AdWords for video team
Lane Shackleton, Group Product Manager
Ammar Ibrahim, Product Manager
Avi Fein, Product Manager
Rich and interactive ad formats
As we’ve developed Gmail ads, we’ve tested various formats to see what users find most engaging. One improvement we’ve made is to remove standard text ads from Gmail and show fewer, higher-quality native ads that integrate more seamlessly with the inbox experience.
With today’s announcement, advertisers can manage native Gmail ads right in AdWords by setting up a Display Network campaign and creating a Gmail ads format in the Ad gallery. The ad has two main parts:
- The collapsed ad that users initially see that matches the look and feel of the Gmail inbox. Users can click on this to expand it and get more details.
- The expanded ad unit is triggered by a click on the collapsed ad. This is a full-page native ad that recreates the informational and visual richness of a landing page. After users click to expand, any subsequent clicks on your content are free, including clicks to save the ad to your inbox or forward it to others.
Advertisers can choose from several customizable Gmail ads templates for the expanded ad unit. They can feature a single image, highlight a promotion that combines an image with a description and call-to-action button, or showcase multiple products at once. The custom HTML format offers the greatest amount of flexibility in how you configure your assets and allows you to create an even richer ad experience by including videos, forms, phone numbers, and multiple links and calls-to-action.
Brands like Marriott International are already using Gmail Ads to connect with users looking for compelling offers:
“We've had a lot of success working with our media agency, Beeby Clark+Meyler, to run Gmail ads and drive awareness for Renaissance Hotels. The larger ad unit allows us to feature videos and imagery that highlight the experience at Renaissance Hotels and our commitment to helping guests discover something new at their destination. We partnered with our creative agency, Anomaly, to embed rich visuals into our ads, and were able to drive great user engagement with 25% longer time spent on site and an 18% increase in pageviews per visit on RenHotels.com. This unit has also delivered ongoing high reach for the Renaissance Hotels brand. Since then, we've rolled out Gmail ads to additional Marriott International brand hotels globally and we're excited to launch them soon for our Autograph Collection Hotels as well."
Giving users control over the ads they see
As Gmail ads have evolved, we've continued to give users the ability to actively control the types of ads they see. As with other Google ads, users can manage their ad settings to remove unwanted ads from specific advertisers. They can also opt out of interest-based ads entirely.
To learn how to set up your first Gmail ad, visit our Help Center for more information.
Posted by Omry Pruzan, Senior Product Manager, Gmail ads
1 Gmail ads do not run on Gmail for work as part of Google Apps for Work