We've moved! Please subscribe to the Google Marketing Platform blog for updates

Cross-posted from the Google Online Security Blog

It’s pretty tough to read the New York Times under these circumstances:

And it’s pretty unpleasant to shop for a Nexus 6 on a search results page that looks like this:

The browsers in the screenshots above have been infected with ‘ad injectors’. Ad injectors are programs that insert new ads, or replace existing ones, into the pages you visit while browsing the web. We’ve received more than 100,000 complaints from Chrome users about ad injection since the beginning of 2015—more than network errors, performance problems, or any other issue.

Injectors are yet another symptom of “unwanted software”—programs that are deceptive, difficult to remove, secretly bundled with other downloads, and have other bad qualities. We’ve made several recent announcements about our work to fight unwanted software via Safe Browsing, and now we’re sharing some updates on our efforts to protect you from injectors as well.

Unwanted ad injectors: disliked by users, advertisers, and publishers

Unwanted ad injectors aren’t part of a healthy ads ecosystem. They’re part of an environment where bad practices hurt users, advertisers, and publishers alike.

People don’t like ad injectors for several reasons: not only are they intrusive, but people are often tricked into installing ad injectors in the first place, via deceptive advertising, or software “bundles.” Ad injection can also be a security risk, as the recent “Superfish” incident showed.

But, ad injectors are problematic for advertisers and publishers as well. Advertisers often don’t know their ads are being injected, which means they don’t have any idea where their ads are running. Publishers, meanwhile, aren’t being compensated for these ads, and more importantly, they unknowingly may be putting their visitors in harm’s way, via spam or malware in the injected ads.

How Google fights unwanted ad injectors

We have a variety of policies that either limit or entirely prohibit, ad injectors.

In Chrome, any extension hosted in the Chrome Web Store must comply with the Developer Program Policies. These require that extensions have a narrow and easy-to-understand purpose. We don’t ban injectors altogether—if they want to, people can still choose to install injectors that clearly disclose what they do—but injectors that sneak ads into a user’s browser would certainly violate our policies. We show people familiar red warnings when they are about to download software that is deceptive, or doesn’t use the right APIs to interact with browsers.
On the ads side, AdWords advertisers with software downloads hosted on their site, or linked to from their site, must comply with our Unwanted Software Policy. Additionally, both Google Platforms program policies and the DoubleClick Ad Exchange (AdX) Seller Program Guidelines, don’t allow programs that overlay ad space on a given site without permission of the site owner.

To increase awareness about ad injectors and the scale of this issue, we’ll be releasing new research on May 1 that examines the ad injector ecosystem in depth. The study, conducted with researchers at University of California Berkeley, drew conclusions from more than 100 million pageviews of Google sites across Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer on various operating systems, globally. It’s not a pretty picture. Here’s a sample of the findings:
  • Ad injectors were detected on all operating systems (Mac and Windows), and web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, IE) that were included in our test.
  • More than 5% of people visiting Google sites have at least one ad injector installed. Within that group, half have at least two injectors installed, nearly one-third have at least four installed.
  • Thirty-four percent of Chrome extensions injecting ads were classified as outright malware.
  • Researchers found 192 deceptive Chrome extensions that affected 14 million users; these have since been disabled. Google now uses the techniques we used to catch these extensions to scan all new and updated extensions.
We’re constantly working to improve our product policies to protect people online. We encourage others to do the same. We’re committed to continuing to improve this experience for Google and the web as a whole.

Posted by Nav Jagpal, Software Engineer, Safe Browsing

This is our final post in a series exploring the value of audience insights in search marketing. Over the past few weeks, we heard from experts and leaders in the industry on the opportunity, predictions, and insights on the topic. With our final post today, we would like to explore the path to success when applying audience insights in your own campaigns.

Additional insights about your audience, such as location, time of day, and how they’ve engaged with you in the past, can help you better understand the intent of your audience so you can serve the most relevant message.

But more information can also mean more complexity. So to help you effectively navigate and leverage audience insights in your campaigns, we’ve developed a 3-step framework for success: Gather, Target, Engage. The infographic below captures the steps in more detail, along with case studies of advertisers who have applied them to their campaigns.

Click here to download the infographic
1. Gather insights that matter: This step is about identifying relevant signals to leverage in your campaigns, which is essential for developing insights on who the audience is, what context they are in, as well as what their interests may be. Here are some examples of the types of signals you can identify:

The user’s relationship with you, including whether they have previously visited your site or made a purchase
What: Time, location and device used
Interests: Interests in specific categories based on consumed content

2. Target based on discovered insights: The next step is to combine these signals, and based on them, create segments you can target. Below are examples of segments you can create if you were selling laptops:

“Close to store”, based on device and location signals.
“Android users” may be more inclined to purchase a Chromebook.
“Interested in bags”: If a user has bought a laptop through your website, he might now need a laptop case rather than a laptop.

3. Engage your audience with a tailored ad: This final step is about delivering your audience a tailored message. Messaging can be optimized for each segment with A/B testing. By measuring results post-engagement, you can reassess if there are new signals to gather, ultimately coming back to the first step in the cycle.

Advertiser success with Audience-driven planning
Specsavers is a good example of an advertiser who applied this framework, matching their ad copy with location-specific segments. The strategy helped drive a 189% increase in their key metric - conversions. To find out more, you can see other case studies in the infographic or explore previous posts in our series. You can also hear about upcoming developments in your inbox, by signing up for our newsletter.

Cross posted from Think with Google.

Last month at the IAB’s annual leadership meeting, viewability—a metric that shows whether an ad was actually viewed—was the topic on everyone’s mind. This is hardly a surprise. According to the “5 Factors of Viewability” research that we published in December, more than half of ads online today never even have a chance to be seen—something we can and must change. 

As many of you know, we’ve long been advocates of the industry adopting viewability as a currency, a common metric to help both marketers and publishers improve their business results.

And we’ve already come a long way. Forward-thinking publishers are introducing ad units designed for maximum viewability, and thousands of advertisers have taken advantage of viewability-based buying on the Google Display Network since we rolled it out last year. Brands and agencies are prioritizing viewability in their buys, and are seeing that doing so drives better results. 

In fact, in tests we ran this month, advertisers measuring viewability based on the MRC standard for display ads with our Active View technology found that viewable ads saw conversion rates improve by as much as 50%. These viewable ads, with a minimum of 50% in view for a minimum of one second, drove a brand lift of 10.3% while non-viewable ads didn't contribute to lift at all. The business impact to buying based on the MRC standard is real.

While we have made some progress, there is still significant work for us to do as an industry to establish viewability as a currency. The conversation has started to devolve from a collective agreement to tackle the viewability issue to debates over viewability rates and how to value viewable buys. It’s a bit like arguing over whether a recipe needs one egg or two while ignoring the fact that the oven has caught on fire. We are so close to effecting real change on this issue; let’s not lose our nerve now.

It is imperative that we, as an industry, take three major steps:

1. Focus on counting viewable impressions; viewability rates don’t matter

Marketers are not saying that they want a percentage of their campaign to be seen; rather, they are saying they want to pay only for viewable impressions. In this request, viewability rates don’t matter, but the actual number of measured viewable impressions does. 

We believe the industry needs to aspire to 100% viewability, full stop. This means buying and selling only viewable impressions. I understand this is a significant challenge, one we're working to solve on our own media properties; without a solution, however, viewable impressions cannot become a currency for the industry.

2. Adopt a single standard for viewability

It’s critical that our industry accepts a single viewability standard, common to all. Without that, it will be impossible to determine the true value of a viewed impression; create scale; or optimize, pace, and forecast inventory effectively. 

Through collective discussion and analysis, our industry and the MRC worked hard to build and agree on a standard definition of viewability, one that we support. But since doing so, not all of us have supported it, with some advertisers and publishers recently suggesting new definitions. What we cannot do as an industry is resort to building around multiple standards. 

The way to move forward now is to accept the long-discussed, hotly debated, yet proven standard set by our industry. There will be plenty of opportunities for our industry to make adjustments and updates as our understanding of viewability evolves, but we’ll never have that opportunity if we don’t collectively take this first step and establish a true currency. 

3. Resolve discrepancies in measurement 

Discrepancies and low measurability rates are not acceptable, yet today they exist when publishers and advertisers compare viewability vendors. To put an end to these discrepancies, we must not only adopt a common standard but also ensure a shared process and method of measurement. A liter of water is always the same regardless of who does the measurement. The same should be true for viewable impressions.

To get here, we must integrate measurement technology directly into ad serving, with viewability data appearing directly alongside other campaign metrics, accurately reconciled for buyers and sellers.

Looking ahead at viewability

As a technology, viewability is still in its earliest stages; there are many exciting opportunities for us to solve collectively. For example, viewability on mobile will be crucial as consumers spend more and more time on their smartphones. Secondary engagement metrics such as viewable time and audibility (after all, video is about sight, sound, and motion) can start to offer an even fuller picture of an ad’s effectiveness. But our industry won’t get there if we’re still debating the standard itself. 

The best technologies are those that delight their users and then just get out of the way. We’ve come to expect this, for example, in instantly mapping out a route in a new city on our phones or having lunch delivered with just a few taps. My hope is that a year from now, viewability will be a true currency—and just as expected and as simple for everyone. 

Neal Mohan, 
Vice President of Display and Video Advertising Products


Consumers’ constant connectivity means that people can now satisfy their desire for information and entertainment at any moment during their day. This “in-the-moment” behavior requires marketers to focus on building cross-screen advertising strategies to capture the moments that matter.

With March Madness upon us, today we will shine a light on how one marketer, Turner Sports, developed smart cross-screen advertising strategies to play to the needs of sports fans. We will then explore five new mobile features we are launching in DoubleClick Digital Marketing that enable advertisers to more easily develop and run cross-screen campaigns.

How Turner engaged fans across screens
Turner knows that at the outset of the tournament, consumers watch the games via the March Madness Live desktop stream and mobile app. So driving traffic to the video stream and driving app downloads at the outset of the Tournament are the brand’s most important metrics. 

As the tournament progresses, the focus shifts from the app to live TV tune-ins, to capture the excitement around the final match-ups. By understanding how and where consumers interact with March Madness content, Turner can build a better digital strategy and reach their users more effectively throughout the Tournament.

Turner used Google’s Lightbox format to create an expandable ad that drives people to the March Madness Live mobile app:

Five new features to help marketers run cross-screen campaigns
To help marketers like Turner accomplish their cross-screen advertising strategies, we’re excited to announce five new features across the DoubleClick Digital Marketing platform. 

Build cross-screen creative more easily: 
  • For basic Flash ads: DoubleClick Bid Manager now supports automatic Flash-to-HTML5 conversion. HTML5 ads can run across mobile inventory where Flash ads cannot, expanding your mobile reach while offering a richer, higher performing creative. Initial results from our beta show that converting Flash assets to HTML5 increases mobile reach by 400% and drives a 2-3x increase in average click-through rate (CTR).
  • For interactive HTML5 ads: In the next few weeks, Google Web Designer will be launching starter templates to help advertisers quickly build mobile ad units from a pre-set format. Over 80 ad templates will be available, including 29 in-app templates, and all of them will be certified to work on DoubleClick Bid Manager. We’ll be adding additional templates for responsive GDN Lightbox formats next quarter. Google Web Designer will also integrate with the Asset Library in DoubleClick Studio, meaning users can access the same library of assets from Google Web Designer and DoubleClick Studio. 
Reach your audiences across screens more effectively: 
  • Based on geography: Last November, we announced that for users who opt in to location-based targeting, marketers can use geofence targeting in DoubleClick Bid Manager to reach people based on their proximity to a specified chain store. We are now expanding geographic coverage to over 100 countries, increasing the types of business chains available for your campaigns, and improving the workflow for the feature, including building better forecasting and reporting. 
  • Based on brand safety: We are making app buying on brand-safe placements much easier. With app brand safety targeting, we have expanded our Digital Content Label algorithm to include even more Play Store and App Store apps, widening your mobile in-app reach while ensuring your ads only run on brand-appropriate apps.
Track and optimize app install campaign performance: 
  • DoubleClick Digital Marketing will support third-party app tracking solutions in early Q2. This means advertisers can track their in-app installs (app downloads from an in-app ad) using supported third-party app trackers and attribute them back to impressions and clicks for in-app ads run on DoubleClick Bid Manager and Doubleclick Campaign Manager. Contact your DoubleClick rep to learn more. 

Whether you’re reaching sports fans during the March Madness tournament, or more generally trying to reach your consumers in the moments that matter, these tools can help you build successful advertising campaigns that will run seamlessly across screens.

Posted by Becky Chappell, DoubleClick Marketing

In February, we added the following features to DoubleClick Search (DS):
  • Manage Baidu accounts in DS: You can now manage your campaigns for Baidu accounts directly in DoubleClick Search (DS). This integration enables you to create and manage keywords and ads, compare and assess campaign performance, view conversions, target ads in specific geographic areas, and adjust bids for ads, right in the DoubleClick Search user interface. DoubleClick Search also lets you apply bid strategies to achieve your goals.

  • Manage and report on AdWords remarketing lists: To target customers who have previously visited your site, you can apply your AdWords-created remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) to ad groups in DoubleClick Search and then see how they perform.

  • Set up radius targets for your location extensions: Let nearby customers know that you’re ready for business by setting up radius targets for your location extensions in DoubleClick Search. After you’ve linked your AdWords account with a Google My Business account, you can set up a radius around your business locations in your Google My Business account and adjust bids for paid clicks that occur within the radius.

  • Understand how users interact with your ads: While you’ve always been able to use DoubleClick Search to see the number of clicks on your ads, you can now use DoubleClick Search to see whether customers are clicking on headlines, sitelinks, directions, or other clickable parts of your AdWords ads.

We also updated the following features:
  • Executive Reports: Share reports from the report manager and filter zero-data automatically:
    • Share reports your reports with anyone: You can use the gray and green  Get shareable link buttons in the report manager to share or stop sharing your executive reports.

    • Remove segments that report zeros from your executive reports: To unclutter your tables and charts, those segments that report all zeros are automatically removed from your executive reports.
      For example, in the following table which is segmented by engine, the Google segment is included because metrics for March and April aren’t zero. An "Other engines" segment is not included because every metric for the selected time period is zero.

  • More information about inventory in Shopping campaigns: Shopping campaigns now provide you with more at-a-glance information about the products that are included in a product group:

    • Add the new Available Products Count and Disapproved Products Count columns to the reporting table to quickly see how many products you are or could be bidding on.

    • For product groups that use a “Product ID” breakout, you can see the product titles next to the product group’s name.

  • Faster performance when uploading conversions: If you use the DS API or bulksheets to upload or modify conversions, DoubleClick Search takes significantly less time to process and respond to your upload request. None of the APIs have been changed, so you don't need to update any of your code. But now, the same requests you've been sending will get a much faster response.

See these updates in action in the February new features training video.

Posted by the DoubleClick Search team

For the last few years, this blog has been the go-to source for all things DoubleClick Search. From monthly product releases, to events, bylines and case studies - you could find it all here.

Starting March 13, your source of DoubleClick Search news will be on our newly redesigned DoubleClick Advertiser blog. With this update, you will be able to access news on DoubleClick Search alongside broader digital marketing news from our team.

On Friday, February 13th, we’ll be retiring the old doubleclicksearch.blogpost.com and redirecting it to the search section of our newly redesigned DoubleClick Advertiser’s blog.

The new dedicated DoubleClick Search blog URL will be: http://doubleclickadvertisers.blogspot.com/search/label/Search 

Please take this opportunity to subscribe to the new blog via Feedburner or the RSS reader of your choice. We look forward to seeing you soon at our new address.

Over the past couple of weeks, we heard from experts and leaders in the industry on the opportunity of applying audience insights to their search marketing efforts, and predictions on how this trend will impact the industry moving forward.

This week, we’re diving deeper and sharing best practices and first steps advertisers can take to make the most of the audience opportunity.

When we sat down with Ben Wood from iProspect, Khurram Hamid of GlaxoSmithKline and Steve Chester from the IAB UK, we heard a resounding message: Don’t hesitate, start today. The sooner advertisers start testing and experimenting with applying audience targeting in their search campaigns, the sooner they’ll tap into valuable insights  to tailor their campaigns for their audience.

As one expert said, “Today, because it’s nascent, it’s those brands right at the cutting edge that are really leaning into this... but in 6 month’s time, in 12 month’s time.. this isn’t something you can’t be doing.” 

And as a first step, we heard how investing in a data management strategy is key. Watch the video for more:

This will be our last post featuring perspectives from industry leaders, but the journey doesn’t stop here. With our next post in the series, we’ll explore specifics around how advertisers can approach planning their search marketing strategy with a focus on leveraging audience insights. Stay tuned!


This is the second post in our series to explore the convergence of audience data and search marketing. In our last post, we heard from industry leaders on the opportunity and how audience data helps them  deliver even more relevant and resonant messages.

This week, we explore what the future holds.  iProspect’s Ben Wood, Havas Media’s Paul Frampton and the IAB’s Steve Chester share perspectives on the continued convergence of audience data and search marketing, implications for digital marketing teams and how they work together, as well as how audience data in search will help bridge the gap between branding and direct response.  

Look for our next post in the series, where we will explore best practices for advertisers who are looking to embrace audience data as part of their search marketing efforts.