January 22, 2010 (CAP Newswire) — Google has announced a number of significant changes to its flagship AdWords advertising platform in recent days, in the process addressing some click fraud fears and complaints and changing up the AdWords games for online marketers a bit.

A new ‘cleanup’ process meant to fight “fraudulent” advertisers began late last year, “in conjunction with the implementation of new technology that now allows Google to not only blacklist rogue advertiser domains, but also permanently ban them at the AdWords account-creation level,” writes IDG News Service’s Juan Carlos Perez at PC World.

So, what kind of advertisers get banned? According to the article, the big targets are companies that advertise free software then charge money for it, or who offer get-rich-quick scams or request private information in exchange for free products.

The company “would neither confirm nor deny a study released by Internet marketing services provider AdGooroo, which claims that in early December Google kicked out 5.3 percent — more than 30,000 — of AdWords advertisers,” the article continues. Read it here.

This new crackdown may explain why Google is changing up its AdWords URL strategy, as well. The search engine is now demanding a more specific URL naming to be followed for an ad to be successfully ranked in its SERPs.

“Let’s say I wanted to create an ad linking to this blog: http://adwords.blogspot.com. In the past, blogspot.com would have been an acceptable display URL. Because there are so many independent blogs hosted on http://blogspot.com however, we now require the display URL to reflect the specific blog reached upon clicking the ad– in this case: adwords.blogspot.com,” the company explained on its blog. Read that here.

All this comes just a short time after a Harvard professor harshly criticized Google for a system where “a particularly insidious kind of click fraud” was allowed to occur. This click fraud was hard to discover because, like other types, it didn’t lead to a lower sales conversion rate.

In a recent article at Forbes, Harvard assistant professor Ben Edelman called for Google to repay advertisers the money lost on this type of fraud, and for Google to cut ties with InfoSpace, which he believes to be at fault.

“It’s all well and good for Google to have partners,” Edelman wrote. “But for the partners to have partners who have partners … it becomes virtually impossible to monitor. Google owes its advertisers something better than that.” Read the Forbes article here.

Meanwhile, Google’s numbers are doing just fine, with or without the loss of revenue you’d expect from banning 5 percent of its ad base. In a study called “Google Ad Spending Increasing Even As Total Number Of Advertisers Decreases”, Gavin O’Malley writes: “Despite a 5% decrease in active advertisers, spending on Google is up nearly 13% among the top 80 U.S. retailers …

“In numerical terms, retailers’ Google spend grew from approximately $264 million in the third quarter to about $298 million in the fourth quarter.”

The revenue is attributed to “increased competition for ad placement, resulting in higher ad prices for Google and unusually high click-through rates … Moreover, the biggest 80 U.S. retailers spent 12.5 percent more in Google ads in the fourth quarter than the third quarter, according to AdGooroo.” Read the article here.

Not bad numbers, right? Especially considering that the average click-through for an AdWords ad is just 2 percent — a fact the company apparently (and finally) admitted last week. (Read about that here.)


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