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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - September 2013

Welcome to the latest edition of our regular newsletter, which covers news, tips and advice on effective website marketing techniques and the latest trends.

In the first article this month we take a look at how Google's recent changes to Analytics access controls and user permissions provides enhanced flexibility over what level of data can be viewed.

Next we examine the very quiet launch in July of Bing Ads in Australia / New Zealand and how they aim to tackle Google's current dominance of the search advertising market.

In the final article this month, we follow-up our previous article on Google Shopping with an update on how its evolved into a Paid Listing service, that allows businesses to showcase their products online, as well as the importance of keeping up-to-date with recent developments.

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 Twitter for the latest developments during the month, or follow our Facebook page for updates.

On to this month's edition...

Google Changes Analytics User Permissions

Google recently announced two primary changes that offer more specific controls over how different users can interact with Google Analytics accounts. These changes are to its access controls/user permissions and are going to make a big difference to those that manage Google Analytics accounts. However, companies still need to own their Analytics account and the data, so should have ultimate control over these settings.

Of course, ultimately, Google owns your Analytics data and since the data resides on their servers you could never gain full control over it. However, the original creator of the Analytic account will have administrative control over the data that's collected and the access provided to other users, and so this should be the business itself and a centralised login so that no one person in the company controls this.

It can often be the case that if Google Analytics has been set up by a web designer, the admin access to the account is controlled by them, and previously, if set up as part of their overall account, the designers couldn't then add admin access for a business as this would give users access to all their other design clients. This has caused issues with a lack of control by the business, and the potential to lose data if the relationship with the web designers sours.

The recent changes to the access permissions and roles provide more control over which sections of the data can be viewed (but not claimed) by certain individuals. Firstly, access permissions will be able to be set at the property level, not just at the account and profile levels. Secondly, access roles are expanding beyond the current administrator and viewer options to allow any user a combination of view, edit and manage users access. So this provides more powerful control, but also means it can be more complicated to know who has access to what parts of an account.

Google explains how permissions will be inherited in the new system: "Properties inherit permissions set on their parent account, and profiles inherit permissions set on their parent properties. For example, a user with view access to an account, also has view access to all of that account's properties and profiles". Existing account admins still get full access in the new system (edit, view and manage users) and existing account viewers will continue to have view-only access.

Matching the new permission types with different levels of the hierarchy should give every type of organisation the flexibility they need in controlling access to data and configuration settings. It's important that organisations audit the people that have access to the data once a year (or once a quarter depending on the data governance), as many forget to do this. They should exclude people that no longer need access, or adjust their permissions as necessary.

If you're a Google Analytics manager, User Permissions is a critical tool as it helps to push more data into the hands of more people in a safe way. You can read more about the new Google Analytics User Permissions here.

If you'd like to know how we can help your business to make the most of these changes, contact us now for more information.


Bing Ads Launched in Australia

After the initial announcement in April this year about the forthcoming release, Bing Ads were launched in Australia and New Zealand at the end of July, to a rather under-whelming press fanfare. However, this 'soft launch' now gives search advertisers another option to target the Australian market, although the new service is now taking search share away from the older established Yahoo Search Marketing system.

Bing Ads is partnering with Mi9, a digital media company in Australia that is a joint venture between Microsoft and Nine Entertainment. Control of the development and monetisation of Bing, Microsoft's search engine, moved to Mi9 in July. Mi9 hopes that it will bring renewed investment in the challenge to Google's dominant search platform by opening up cross-border opportunities for Australian search marketers.

Microsoft's General Manager in the Online Services Division and global head of Bing advertising at Microsoft, Steve Sirich, stated: "We see it as a marathon not a sprint against Google … we're aware they're the industry leader (in search advertising in both NZ and Aus). But we think we can differentiate from them, because we see that search is evolving from just a destination experience into more of a platform one that powers multiple services".

Currently, advertising on the Bing platform was offered through the 'Panama' platform run out of Yahoo! Search Marketing. But a global decision in 2010 by (then) Yahoo! chief executive Carol Bartz to focus on its core strength meant getting out of the search business. Microsoft's local venture, Mi9, is attempting to capitalise on the still-fast-growing search advertising market.

It also opens up cross-border opportunities for Australian and international search marketing campaigns, which Sirich says, is an aspect Yahoo!7 didn't push aggressively, or make easy for advertisers. "It opens up markets that Australian advertisers can now purchase that traffic in. So if advertisers do have an interest to purchase US traffic or UK traffic or India traffic… they'll now have that ability."

Bing Ads has already been running in the US and many other countries for several years, and the tool will function in a similar way to Google AdWords. There's also the option to import Google AdWords campaigns into a Bing Ads account. It's certainly an easier platform to manage pay-per-click campaigns than on Yahoo! Search Marketing and this older tool is expected to disappear at some stage so that Bing will also provide the paid ads to the Yahoo! search engine.

Although Bing's search share in Australia is reported by Hitwise to be less than 5%, there is still a good opportunity for companies to use this tool and to achieve additional search coverage of the market. Costs also tend to be lower as there is less competition here, so the cost per conversion can be beneficial, although volumes are lower than through Google. It's also good to have some increased competition in the search advertising market and another option to test and develop.

If you'd like to know how to improve your online marketing with Bing Ads, please contact us now.


Recent Developments with Google Shopping

In a follow-up to our original article in September 2011, entitled Google Shopping becomes an important online shopping tool - where we described the original shopping comparison service - this month we look at how this has evolved into a tool that allows business to showcase their products online through the Google Merchant Center, plus it has become an integral part of Google AdWords.

Google Shopping - formerly Google Product Search, Google Products and Froogle - originally allowed users to search for products on online shopping websites and compare prices between different vendors. The service listed prices submitted by merchants, and was monetised through AdWords advertising like other Google services.

Alongside the immediate re-branding from Google Product Search to Google Shopping on May 31, 2012, Google also announced that in late 2012, it would change the service to use a "pay-to-play" model, where merchants would have to pay Google to list their products on the service, with results influenced by both relevance and the bid amounts they pay. Google justified the move by stating that it would allow the service to "deliver the best answers for people searching for products and help connect merchants with the right customers."

The change proved controversial as some small businesses showed concern that they would not be able to compete with larger companies that can afford a larger advertising budget. Microsoft's Bing also attacked the move in an advertising campaign known as "Scroogled", which called Google out for using "deceptive advertising practices" and suggested that users use its competing Bing Shopping service instead.

Although the paid listing version of this tool remains controversial, it remains a very effective way for businesses to display their products online with images, for those larger sized ones that have sufficient budget resources to do this. So for those that are aware of this technology, it's important to keep up-to-date with recent developments. One of these is the recent announcement by Google about the enforcement of a specific requirement, which is aimed to continue improving data quality on Google Shopping.

The compulsory use of the "unique product identifier" and "identifier exists" attributes will come into force from September 16th in Australia. By November, all violating listings will be rejected and will not be served through Product Listing Ads, so it's vital that this requirement is put in place by then. (These new feed specifications are already being enforced for all accounts in the United States and non-exempt accounts in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom).

Please review the latest product feed specification to learn more. Or if you'd like more information about how to use product listings with images online through Google Shopping contact us now.


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We hope you've found this month's newsletter useful. Please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website's performance. Also, if there are any issues you would like to see in future editions of this newsletter, please submit your suggestions to us.