Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - March 2017
Welcome to the latest monthly issue of our regular newsletter which features news, tips and advice on effective website marketing, with a particular focus on search engine marketing techniques and trends.
In our first article this month we take a look at the new AdWords and Analytics User Interfaces, which should interest both Online Marketers and Data Analysts who want to know more about the recent structural and visual improvements in these services. The second article looks at Google's filtering of 'bad ads', and what techniques were used to tackle bad sites and scammers in 2016.
In the final article this month we take a look at Google's free Data Studio and the significant recent announcement, which should be useful to organisations' collaborative reporters, that the limit of five free reports has been removed.
You can read more below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter, either by month or by subject. You can also follow us on Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn, as well as our occasional updates on Twitter.
On to this month's edition...
New AdWords and Analytics User Interfaces
This year, users of Google AdWords and Analytics will see a new look to both these services. The refreshed Google Analytics interface has now rolled out to most accounts over the past month, and the changed Google AdWords look will be coming soon, with a more gradual rollout over the next few months. Google has made these changes to reflect the increased usage through mobiles and multiple devices, and based on extensive research and user feedback. The changes will require some adjustment, particularly in AdWords, but marks another significant move forward for both of these services.
With Google AdWords, the user feedback that Google received about the way the current interface should improve suggested that it should be more about a user's business, and less about the AdWords product. That was taken on-board and there is now the ability to see the data most relevant to business goals, to enable more time to be spent optimising campaigns and identifying opportunities. There's now less clutter and more intuitive workflows, so it's possible to quickly make changes that can move a business forward.
The new look does represent quite a change however, and the most noticeable difference with this new AdWords 'experience' is the look and feel, due to the 'Material Design' language being used that's at the core of favourite Google apps like Maps, Search, and Gmail. This allows AdWords to focus on the business and not around features, but with the tools used to get things done being simple, yet powerful. For example, the new Overview page provides relevant insights about the AdWords account and helps to easily visualise them, so action can be taken. The clutter has been removed and navigation has been made easier, so it's possible to do more in less time.
This has resulted in feedback from Users who have said that the new experience is faster, more intuitive, and that it's easier to get things done. So at this stage, the feedback indicates that Google's vision is coming to fruition by building a platform that's easy to use and helps to reach unique business goals.
Google Analytics has been running for over 10 years and has had many new features and reports added to it over this time. In the last few months, Google have been building a simpler User Interface while still retaining the key functionality that people frequently use.
These are the first part in a series of improvements that have been implemented since October:
- Simplified navigation - A brand-new navigation using Google's Material Design standards, and Admin is now pinned to the bottom of the navigation.
- Customisation, all in one place - Previously, reporting Customisation items were spread out. Now, all Customisation elements are contained under a single "Customisation" menu.
- Simplified Google Analytics View switching - The old "Home" account/property/view picker page has been replaced by the new picker in the header, which allows you to switch views from any page in the product.
- A streamlined login flow - Logging in now automatically takes you to the last Google Analytics View you were looking at the last time you logged in.
- An adjustable default date range - You can now change the default date range that Google Analytics reports load with. The default setting of 7 days (rather than 30, previously) can be changed in the Google Analytics user settings.
- Changes to Intelligence Events - Custom alerts have moved to the new Customisation section and will continue to function as normal but the Automatic Intelligence Events have been removed from Google Analytics, and will soon be replaced by automated insights from Google Analytics Assistant.
- In-Page Analytics - This report has now been removed from Google Analytics web UI but it's still possible to access in-page analytics with the official Chrome Extension.
The UI changes to both AdWords and Analytics have certainly improved their clarity of navigation and ease of use. Also, they are becoming more tightly integrated with each other, which makes retrieving the required data to enhance a business much more straight-forward.
If you want to know more about how the use of the latest interfaces can help to improve your business, contact us now for details.
Google's Filtering of 'Bad Ads'
Google recently posted in their AdWords blog a summary of their efforts to stop 'bad ads' appearing on their network in 2016. These bad ads might be trying to promote illegal products or make unrealistic offers, or they can trick people into sharing personal information and infect devices with harmful software. Such actions can also reflect badly on Google's platform, so they take steps to prevent these ads appearing whenever possible.
These 'bad ads' can be search or display ads, and Google does have strict policies about the type of ads allowed to run on their system. There are automated filters in place to trigger ad disapprovals, as well as a team of experts who will review ads and make a decision on their use. In total, 1.7 billion ads were identified in 2017 as ones that violated Google's policies and were therefore blocked or removed. This was double the number from the year before.
In the past year Google extended their policies and removed ads that were misleading or making predatory offers, such as payday loans (over 5 million ads removed worldwide). They also enhanced their system to try to spot and remove contravening ads as quickly as possible, such as display or mobile ads that try to trick viewers to click on the ad due to a false warning message that may actually lead to the downloading of harmful software or malware (112 million ads in 2016 - 6 times more than in 2015).
The other types of ads that were widely blocked were ads for illegal products, such as pharmaceuticals (68 million ads) or unauthorised gambling products (17 million ads). Misleading ads, such as some weight loss products, were also removed (80 million).
Other types of blocked ads were 'self clicking ads' on mobiles that don't appear to be ads, and also ones that try to get around Google's system such as 'tabloid cloakers' which are banner ads that appear to look like headlines of a topical subject on a website, but actually link to a completely different website promoting products that Google would otherwise ban.
Google will ban the ads they find that contravene their system, as well as the advertiser depending on the threat or frequency of the bad ads. It is, however, a growing problem and one that Google is continuing to fight more effectively and quickly to maintain the trust of their advertising network, from both advertisers and viewers who may be adversely affected.
Hopefully you've not been affected by bad ads from either the advertiser or consumer angle, but if you would like more information about this, please contact us for details.
Free Access to Google Data Studio
Google recently announced a significant change to their Data Studio product, which is their data visualisation product first launched in May 2016, by providing free unlimited access to users. Data Studio turns data into informative reports and dashboards that are easy to read, easy to share, and to fully customise. Since that launch there has been positive feedback and tremendous demand for the product so Google has now enhanced it to make it even easier to use via templates and by adding many new data connectors.
This recent change, announced in February 2017, is that the previous five-report limit in Data Studio was removed and users now have unlimited access to reports. The paid Data Studio 360 version already allowed this, but this significant change now makes it possible to create and share unlimited reports, for free. This change is combined with a design goal to accelerate the ability to fully leverage all the data across an organisation, to ultimately make better decisions.
One of the fundamental ideas behind Data Studio is that data should be easily accessible to anyone in an organisation. Google believes that as more people have access to data, better decisions will be made. Also, with multiple data connectors, dashboards can now be easily created from many different types of data to share with everyone in an organisation and data sources can be mixed and matched within a single report. For example, Analytics and AdWords data can be combined into a single report.
Multiple data connectors enable Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Google Sheets and many other Google services to be integrated, which allows Data Studio to be more that just a report sharing tool but one that provides real collaboration within a business. The same infrastructure as Google Docs has been used, so reports can be edited together, in real time. This is useful as data from multiple teams can be combined with other teams that add analysis and context to the report.
There are multiple visualisation tools to style reports and data, with the recent inclusion of bullet charts that help you communicate your progress towards a business goal, in addition to the existing bar charts, pie charts, time series visuals and the advanced tabular data heat mapping feature. There are also stylistic design tools and interactive data controls, like a date picker and dynamic filters that enable report editors to make reports interactive for their viewers.
Data Studio's ability to use pre-built data connectors make it easy to bring together all the required data in the way it's needed, to create collaborative, interactive and dynamic reports. It's a welcome addition to Google's free services and has been receiving excellent feedback from users.
You can see the free version of Data Studio here and if you want more information about how Data Studio can be used to improve your business's reporting, please contact us now.
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