Marketing Land | February 20, 2019
A major new mobile ad fraud operation affecting Android phones, mobile apps and advertisers on the platform was revealed Wednesday by Oracle. The DrainerBot code appears to have been distributed via an infected SDK, which was integrated into hundreds of popular Android apps and games. Android operating systems have shown vulnerability to the actions of fraudsters — in October 2018, a botnet operation was uncovered that involved more than 125 Android apps and websites. What happened. Bad actors use bot networks to defraud advertisers and consumers, employing a malicious mix of spoofing and malware. In this case, unsuspecting users downloaded infected Android apps, which then delivered invisible, fraudulent ads to their devices. The infected apps then reported back to the ad network that each video advertisement had appeared on a legitimate publisher site, but the sites were spoofed, not real. The infected apps consume significant bandwith — potentially more than 10 GB per month of data, even when the device is not in use or is in sleep mode. Oracle said that the Netherlands company Tapcore was responsible for distribution of the SDK. Why you should care. As programmatic advertising continues to rise in popularity, so do incidences of ad fraud, costing advertisers millions in wasted ads and providing bad experiences for users. “In today’s complicated advertising ecosystem, criminals are increasingly targeting mobile apps because that’s where the users — and the ad money to reach them — is going,” said Eric Roza, SVP & GM, Oracle Data Cloud. “As criminals adapt their attacks, marketers need to adapt their defenses as well.” Even though Android users are the ones most affected by this, Roza said he doesn’t see it as a platform issue. “Ad fraud reaches every corner of the global advertising market, across mobile and desktop, in-app and video and display, iOS and Android, programmatic and reserved and walled gardens. This is effectively an arms race, and we are devoting an increasing number of resources to help advertisers, publishers, and consumers stay a step ahead,” Roza said. Oracle said that The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) will be holding a special briefing for its member companies on Friday to discuss mitigation steps for the threat.
Search Engine Land | March 12, 2019
Google is rolling out a new Budget Planner tool for Google Ads campaigns. Kim Clinkunbroomer, who heads Clink Digital Marketing, alerted us to the new feature, available under the Tools menu in Google Ads. It appears to still be rolling out, so you may not see it in your accounts quite yet. I’ve tried it out, and it’s pretty straightforward. A quick tutorial is also available to guide you through when you first get started. The basics of how it works. You can create a budget plan based on either clicks or conversions as a key metric. There is also the option to choose a target: clicks, spend or average CPC if you select clicks as the primary metric, or conversions, spend or average CPA when conversions is your key metric. If you choose a target, you can manually enter a target amount, or (pretty handy) you can choose from “previous period” or the “same time last year.” After you set the variables, Google will generate a draft budget plan. The forecast chart will show a gray point showing how your campaigns are expected perform with the existing settings if you make no changes. A blue line indicates how changes in spend will impact your key metric (clicks or conversions). You can toggle to see the spend curve based on different goals. For example, you can select the “highest number of clicks for spend” or “lowest average CPC for spend.” A table below the chart shows the impact at the campaign level. You can select a campaign to see its forecast or modify spend and bid recommendations.
Search Engine Land | March 14, 2019
Advertisers know that to be effective with Google search ads they must be able to stand out in a competitive environment, and that often means having ads that qualify to be shown in the coveted positions above the search results. And since PPC is hardly a secret anymore, there are always more advertisers willing to compete for those few highly desirable ad slots. So when we hear that we can show our ads on new inventory when using a new Google Ads feature, like Responsive Search Ads (RSAs), that gets our attention. So where exactly is Google getting this new inventory that they say Responsive Search Ads (RSA) ads may qualify for? And what is the right way to evaluate the performance of this new inventory? Let’s take a look. Ad tests need to limit the variables: When we do A/B ad tests through our tools in Optmyzr (my company), we firmly believe that we should compare apples to apples. In a perfect world, we would be able to replicate the exact same conditions for a search multiple times and show a different ad variant every time to get data about which ad drives the best results, whether that result is the best CTR, conversion rate, or conversions per impression (a combination of the previous 2 metrics). But we don’t live in a perfect world so we have to sacrifice a bit of precision and try to limit the variables of our tests as much as possible. In Google Ads, that is really, really difficult because there are a lot of factors that change and that we can’t always control for. In some cases, the best we can do is to compare similar ad formats (e.g., expanded text ads) within one ad group where it is targeting the same audience. While that may sound like an apples-to-apples comparison, it’s often not because the ad group has different keywords, that match to even more different queries, and the ads are shown to entirely different people.